A Lesson in Traveling While Traveling

While I live in sunny southern California, most of my relatives live in varying parts of Japan. This leads me to station myself at a specific relative for several weeks, and within that time frame, travel to other parts of Japan to see other relatives.

I typically only need to carry 4 or 5 days worth of clothes because the laundry machine is spun every couple of days, or even every day, in most households in Japan. I was packing to travel from my in-laws' home to my parents' home this morning. The trip was going to be 4 days, and I brought about 5 days worth of clothes for the entire trip.

The problem in front of me was this: I could take the time to pick out the 4-days worth of clothes... or I could simply pack everything that I had and just take it with me without thinking.

I picked the latter option without hesitation. Because I wasn't going to do a lot of walking, the time investment required and the cognitive overload of thinking about, and picking 4 days worth of clothes from a 5 day wardrobe simply made no sense.

There are too many of these small decisions on a day-to-day that wear down our decision making ability, cognitive bandwidth, and take away from time doing things we actually care about doing.

Don't get me wrong — if you like packing and picking clothes and optimizing a travel wardrobe, then you probably don't share this opinion and that's totally okay.

This was a good reminder that we all only have 24 hours in a day, and that time is spent by accumulating small tasks to do throughout the day. Being cognizant of each of these decisions and quickly being able to decipher what is actually worth doing and not worth doing is a key skill in optimizing our output towards a life that we want to build.

For me, that means more time spent learning new things, making things, talking to family, and playing with my 6-month old.

Stop Looking for "The One" and Start Being "The One"

If there is someone out there for you — "the one" — rest assured you won't find them.

Everybody is a little bit crazy. There isn't a single person in the world who will drive you a little bit crazy, and there isn't a single person in the world who won't be driven a little bit crazy by you if you decide to live together and try to make it work.

We can spend our time looking for this person, only to be repeatedly disappointed by the fact that being in relationship means evolving together, needing to sacrifice and compromise parts of your crazy to meet the needs of the other, needing to inform the other of such things, and needing to graciously accept that you exhibit questionable behavior too.

We can continue to be disappointed by trying to find a new partner only to realize that problems of relationships are fundamental to humans sharing a life together.

The issue is not the partners. The issue is our expectation of what building a lifelong relationship with a cohabiting partner entails.

One day, I finally internalized that relationship is the act of contributing to the partnership. Moreover, the relationship requires no questioning of its validity for growth. So now the questions I ask myself have shifted from

Is my partner the right person? Are we compatible? Will I be able to live the rest of my life with this person?

to inquiries like

How am I being a contribution to our partnership today? How can I be a contribution tomorrow? What have I done in the past that has driven my partner a little crazy, and what lead me to do those things? How can I better my attitude about moments of growth in our relationship? How can I inform my partner of their craziness more graciously? What do we both want out of the relationship? How can I help enable those things?

Don't get me wrong, I think inquiries assessing the validity of a relationship are important if you are looking for that validation, and there are many situations where this is appropriate.

But no one needs that validation to decide that you want to contribute to a relationship. The act can be selflessly given away at no cost. What kind of partner are you being if your operating premise is that you will only contribute if you believe that the partnership qualifies as a worthwhile venture?

Relationships become worthwhile ventures because you contribute to them. Not the other way around.

This realization has taken a very long time to mold into shape, but it has slowly become the rock foundation of my decision making process in my marriage.

Adopting this framework of thought has lifted the pressures of needing to feel that the relationship is whole, and has instead actually helped me feel whole, knowing that I am doing something to better the relationship.

Maybe You Only Need One Pitch

Imagine you are a professional pitcher and you only have the ability to throw one pitch. It's a fastball with good movement that's decently fast. Definitely not the fastest. Perhaps maybe a little above average speed, but nothing special.

How could you be a great pitcher? It can't be about focusing on the lack of pitch repertoire – that choice is gone in this hypothetical scenario.

It would have to be about perfecting everything else. The accuracy of the pitches. The slight variances in speed to keep batters on their toes. The timing of the wind up. The pressure you put on runners with your pick-off move.

Having accuracy does seem to do wonders for a baseball pitcher. Take for example Koji Uehara. He was a 38-year old pitcher in 2013 when he earned the MVP title in the ALCS (American League Championship Series.) He didn't have the fastest pitches (in fact, pretty slow fast ball at sub 90) or the most diverse pitching repertoire. What he had was accuracy. He threw an unbelievable amount of strikes relative to balls. And the outcomes show the effectiveness of such skills (They won the world series that year.)

There's something to be said about being a one-pitch type of person. Being really good at delivering on that one thing. You end up becoming known for being good at that one thing. And because you're good at it, you earn the trust and respect of others.

With minimized distractions and clarity on what to focus on, the one-pitch becomes the perfect backdrop to be able to let the other stuff that matters shine through.

Are you focusing on too many things?

Maybe it's time to reduce the pitching repertoire and focus on the effectiveness of the pitches instead.

Vice

I grew up in a household where my father worked well into the late hours of the night moving up the corporate ladder. I was relatively young then and I don't really remember spending a lot of weeknights with him.

He eventually had a change of heart and quit his job of being a higher-up in the corporate world and then became a pastor. Even then, he would relentlessly prepare his sermons throughout the week and spend his open weekdays, nights, and weekends with other church goers doing pastorly duties. I could tell he loved his job.

Actually, I could tell he just loved working.

My role model growing up was someone who's vice was his work. Looking back at it now, I can see that it wasn't the content of the work itself, but rather the act of doing work.

Though it may seem unintuitive, the content of the work you do is not what determines whether you are fulfilled or unfulfilled. I do think it's an important part of the equation. But I think a necessary prerequisite to finding fulfillment in work is to learn to like the act of doing work in the first place.

I attribute most of my ability to find fulfillment in the work, not to the love that I feel towards the work, but to the satisfaction I feel when I am working and being productive.

The best part is that a particular project, gig, or job may be swiped away from me one day. But the act of working will never go away. There's always something to be doing to create value in this world.

My vice is working.

Imperfect Love

When you love someone, you love them whole. You love their imperfections.

It's a romantic notion, but not a very helpful notion.

Love is about tolerating your partner and your own imperfections gracefully, being forgiving, and striving to help each other grow to remove such imperfections.

Love is to strive for perfection, as defined by the values of the couple, together as a team, communicating with and respecting each other every step of the way.

However, not every imperfection is created equal. Some are worth simply tolerating while some should not continue being tolerated.

It's not as simple as tolerating everything or fixing everything. Such is the nuanced nature of love.