If you do it right, Ikea can be a form of meditation. Legos too. Or even crafting a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You know the rules, you can follow the drawings, and you can get it done. Science has even backed it up.
Sweet control in this jumbled bundle of life.
It's been this way for awhile. Legos hold a special place in my childhood memories. Only weeks from Christmas, I'm still toying with the respectable amount of Lego sets I can buy and be considered a functional adult. But during my childhood, I would run off with the box of colorful bricks and crack open the instructions. I wasn't trying to be creative, I wanted to follow the instructions and build the sucker as fast as possible. Someone should have been clocking my times.
But, as we know, life doesn't have a manual. And even if it did, some curveballs are so fast you wouldn't have time to alphabetically scan through the index for the right reaction. Winston Churchill was probably thinking the same thing when he said, "Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential."
Life is right now.
Whether you're swearing at that IKEA desk or counting down the hours until your holiday break, the only control you can muster is taking a deep breath and pushing on. Because no matter your plans, life has a different one. There are the weird doctor visits, the expensive winter jackets, and the slips, trips, and falls on the cold sidewalk. Life isn't like Legos.
And sometimes even the present moment can be slippery. It was easy to throw away responsibility as a kid. Now, as adults, we forget how to remember to be present.
Enter Derek Sivers.
Way back in the 90's when music was burned on thin shiny discs, Sivers created a tiny project called CD Baby. He spent three months building a button on his website to sell his own album. Soon after a couple of friends wanted a button and Sivers built it for them too. And then thousands of people wanted a button, and Sivers built it for them too, until CD Baby was the world’s largest online distributor of independent music.
And Derek Sivers is way more than that, especially considering when he sold CD Baby for $22 million he gave it all away.
Tasked with answering the question of "What are you doing now" often enough, Sivers took to his homepage and told everyone. With just a few bullet points and links, Sivers created a /now page. He updates it as often as he updates his life. It is a snapshot of the present, a reminder of purpose.
Purpose is not as slippery as we may think it is. There is this anxiety to discover it, like some sort of treasure chest with directions to the perfect, problemless life, and stick with it until our dying day. But your purpose can change. It's okay. Couldn't be as simple as a digital list of bullet points?
In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat drops this truth bomb in the simplest way:
“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
It's easy to fall back to being a wanderer in this vast world. We can wake up with a wide-eyed approach to everything, reacting to smartphone notifications and robotic bosses. But there is something inside of you. There is a purpose waiting for you to contribute to this world, anything and everything. You're not here to take up space, you're here to offer something great. It's as motivational speaker Zig Ziglar asked, "Are you a wandering generality or are you a meaningful specific?"
So what am I doing right now?
I'm going downstairs to jump on a treadmill and sweat for fifteen minutes. Plain and simple.
And if you want to know more about my now, click here.