Category Archives: relationships

How to love your life

Love, American-style.As someone on an endless quest to refine my identity and define my purpose, I often try to summarize my findings to-date into a catchy motto or creed by which I should live, some sort of shorthand standard or “rule of thumb” (for those not afraid of useful cliches of patriarchal origin). I need a slogan. A cheer. A cheat sheet.

Or how about this: an algorithm.

An algorithm is a set of instructions for accomplishing a certain task, ideally with the fewest possible steps necessary to complete the task satisfactorily. Or it can be a set of rules, preferably the fewest rules necessary to govern the situation and handle all possible or likely inputs and outcomes.

Here’s my algorithm for living a happy life, a life that I love:

Spend as much time as possible doing what you love with whom you love.

How did I come up with this? I sat down this evening and thought about whether I love my life. The answer: sometimes. The follow-up: when? When I’m doing the things that I love to do. Or when I’m with the people I love.

Synthesis: chocolate and peanut butter, dude. Why not both?

I love my life when I’m spending time doing what I love to do: writing, cooking, entertaining, performing. I also love my life when I’m spending time with people I love to spend time with: my wife, my children, my friends.

It stands to reason that I love my life the most when I’m doing what I love WITH the people I love. Conversely, I love my life least when I’m spending time doing things I don’t love with people I don’t like or just don’t know very well.

This conclusion has two key lessons for me.

First, I need to maximize my time in that “loved things and people” quadrant. Whatever I can do to get there as often as possible and stay there as long as possible is a good move.

Second, if I find myself in the opposite quadrant — the sad little quadrant of “unloved things and people” I can improve my situation in one of two ways: either substitute loved activity for unloved activity — for example, by volunteering to write the executive summary for a project instead of handling an account reconciliation — or start loving the people I’m with — for example, taking the time to get to know my co-worker, seeing what hobbies or interests we have in common.

By the disjointed narrative above, you can tell I’ve got to do some more thinking about this idea, this new motto of mine: Spend as much time as possible doing what you love with whom you love. In the meantime, I challenge you to answer this call to action:

List three activities that you love and three people that you love. Then make some time this week to do at least one thing on the first list with at least one person on the second list.

Extra credit: come up with your own motto, your own one-sentence algorithm for living a life you love. I’d love to hear it.

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Saturday night free-ver

That's Frugality / voluntary simplicity / urban po’folks nerdiness is in full effect: tonight’s romantic evening was all about leftovers and DVDs from the public library.

Luckily, I’m an amazing cook, and I had the foresight to make a double batch of everything for last night’s Shabbat dinner. We had sweet & sour meatballs with noodle kugel and farmers’ market green beans with some Aussie shiraz brought over by last night’s guests, and the Mrs. found some intertesting movies at the lie-berry.

The first was a real treat (for me): Orson Welles’s 1963 adaptation of Kafka’s”The Trial” starring AnthonyPerkins. Holy crumble, was that an amazing film. The Mrs. hated it, and afterward said something about my penchant for “crap movies”.

I admitted “The Trial” was no “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days”, but then, what is? Her deft response: “You liked Pi!”

Yes, I did. Do. And forever shall. I even quoted that movie’s main character Max Shapiro when she said that “The Trial ” was boring and dumb.

“WHAT IF IT’S GENIUS?!”

Up top, Aronofsky fans.

The second was a further sortie into our new passtime of exploring foreign film together. “Cafe au Lait” is a French movie, circa early ’90s, I’d say, about a young woman who’s pregnant and informs the two potential fathers simultaneously. The two men compete with one another for primacy in her affections and eventually reach a kind of humorous detente.

Bonus: the two men are a wealthy African Muslim law student and a poor Jewish bike messenger who’s also a drug dealer and an aspiring rapper. Even if you’re not impressed by this attempt by the French to rip of Spike Lee as clumsily as they’ve ripped off the rest of American urban culture, the whole thing’s worth watching for the one scene where the tipsy Jewish grandpa (or Grand Pere, according to the credits) dances around the living room solo singing something in elderly Franco-Yiddish.

As much as I’m filled with anxiety and nausea by the sheer cognitive dissonance of French rap, I give this movie a full thumb and three quarters for good writing, good characterization, and several moments of genuine humor and unsaccharine poignancy. The catch: it’s in French, so get your reading glasses, Grand Pere.

Call to action: if you’re having an evening in with your special lady or gentleman, fight the urge to just get BlockBuster and take-out. Challenge yourself to try something new: drop by your local library and get a couple of movies outside the norm of what you’d usually see, and make the most romantic dinner you can out of what you’ve got in your fridge.

It’s the time you spend together that makes an evening romantic, not how much you tip the pizza dude. And I pity the fool who doesn’t LOVE “My Dinner with Andre”.

Friday evening resolution

Shabbat Shalom!  Hey!50% too clever, I know. But worth mentioning all the same. That’s what you get when you force your work ethic upon me, Seinfeld, even if only memetically.

Damn you, Jerry, and damn your stupid chain. But here I am, punning the blog’s name.

So around the same time I stumbled on the name “Monday Morning Revolution” (and was shocked by the revelation it was not already a registered domain), I decided that I should host people for Shabbat dinner every Friday that I was free to do so. I decided I’d wait until after my wedding in August (an impending wedding is a useful excuse to get out of just about anything) and then make it a full-blown resolution.

We were wed August 12th. Our first Shabbat dinner guests as a married couple came on August 31. The following Friday was someone’s birthday, so we bagged the big family dinner and went out. Then this week (tonight actually – yes, I blog on Shabbos. But I don’t roll.) we had some more people over: one gal from our Intro to Judaism class and a couple we met in our premarital workshop (a.k.a. group therapy for the betrothed).

We’re 2 for 2. Maybe I should knock on some wood here, but I’ve yet to be disappointed by the experience of having people over for Shabbat dinner. Jews, non-Jews, old friends, new friends, it always works out awesome. Of course, getting all those swell dishes for wedding presents helps, as does the fact that I love to cook in large quantities, but that’s beside the point.

The point is the emulation of my own personal Biblical hero, Abraham. I won’t go into too much detail here, but in the book of Genesis, Abraham is clearly the hostest with the mostest, and his hospitality is rewarded by thousands of years of spiritual progeny in three major world religions marking him as their single common patriarch.

OK, maybe I’m getting a bit uppity, and I really should be in bed right now (damn you, Seinfeld) but I just read a mention in someone else’s awesome blog about one of my favorite books, Never Eat Alone, and that, plus a belly full of kugel and meatballs and a heart full of friendship have inspired the following call to action:

Read Genesis, especially about the life of Abraham, then read Keith Ferazzi’s Never Eat Alone, then go back and re-read Genesis. You should be able to knock all that out in a weekend. Don’t ask me why – both books have been extensively reviewed elsewhere – just trust me on this one. Then ask a few friends over for dinner the following Friday night. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel about your life.

Stay tuned for more Shabbat dinner-based messages; this may be my most inspired and fruitful resolution since “Regular Bathing”.