Best-Of Advice

On the eye of the beholder

I can’t help but envy the depth and texture of your life glimpsed through the anecdotes you’ve shared. It feels like my life choices, or maybe just my nature, have limited my opportunities for adventure and spontaneity. Then I remember conversations where friends or strangers would gape at my own more modest experiences. Is it all in the eye of the beholder? Is there some Rock Star bell curve we all fall onto or is it all in the presentation?


Both. There is a rock star bell curve, and still, it’s all in the presentation. There are echelons of heiresses and overachievers who make my minor adventures seem quaint, but I tell a better story than they do. Not that any of it really matters, because you can find depth and texture in any experience — and in anyone’s life — if you only bother to look. It’s the looking, the examination itself, that reveals the depth and texture.

Don’t envy the life you’ve glimpsed through my anecdotes. Don’t compare my life to yours. That feeling you have about your nature, that your life choices are somehow limiting your opportunities, it is the essence of wistfulness. Feeling wistful is a powerful emotion, one that can easily turn into envy and melancholy if you start comparing yourself to others. Resist the urge to compare, and never let the thought of missed adventures bother you.

You and I and everyone else are all inherently limited by our choices. There are an infinite number of adventures that we will never get to experience — some beautiful, some tragic, and some so magnificently transcendent that our tiny brains aren’t even capable of imagining them. Every choice we make collapses the possibility of every other, forever limiting our opportunities for all those grand and unknowable adventures, but that’s the singular nature of time and the human condition, so fuck it.

We only get one go of it, and the brutal truth is that some people have more fun than others. Some get a few more spins around the sun. Some get a pile of shit and suffering. None of it’s fair and none of it matters and the only way to get it wrong is to live an unexamined life.

The most important question you asked me is whether it’s all in the eye of the beholder, because that’s exactly where it is. All of it. The eye of the beholder is everything, and the sharper your eye, the closer you look at the world, and the deeper you examine your experiences, the more depth and texture you’ll reveal about your own life no matter what adventures come your way.


19 thoughts on “On the eye of the beholder

  1. Chops says:

    For every persons spontaneity that I envy, I imagine there are an equal number of people who envy my stability. It really is about how you see other people, both in how they frame themselves and how you frame them.

    • Sel says:

      Yup. This is how I feel. My life is boring on many fronts, but my stability is an incredible gift that I cherish, because I haven’t always had it.

    • Rose says:

      Same. I hate to think this way because, at the end of the day, I’m still comparing myself to others, but it’s true. Sometimes I want a more exciting love life, but my friends who have dated around are now craving stable, long-term relationships, and they haven’t yet developed the skills to make those work. I don’t get to travel much, but my friends who can afford to flit around the world on whim have unfocused careers to match. My friends with enviable jobs don’t have time to develop their personal lives. Of course, there are always those who just about have it all, but it doesn’t make anyone else’s experience less valuable.

  2. Anna says:

    This sounds counter intuitive, but if you want spontaneity then you should plan it for yourself. Having a plan for a night out or a short city trip, maybe by yourself, that allows for improvisation is a great way to plan an adventure.
    Also, there is depth and texture in glitter. Life isn’t a collection of short stories, it’s a constant feedback loop and the experiences of a person are less important than the questions they ask.

  3. a grouch says:

    …that was … quite full of shit …

    Glad you haven’t left us!

    I agree about the brutal truth – we all have a certain amount of opportunity and resource, but beyond that, we have differing talent, intelligence, and energy. I also agree about comparing lives – I wouldn’t want yours, certainly (aspects of it sound cool, and if it was a book, I’d happily read it, but I’m an introvert who doesn’t like parties).


    Can I recommend a terminal diagnosis? (may it be a false diagnosis), I had my own death-scare about a year ago, and being told that you have a VERY limited time to continue enjoying your faculties and abilities does wonders for motivation. Luckily it turned out to be a false positive, leaving me with the knowledge of what it’s like to stare into the abyss, but without the actual shortened lifespan. Do things. Think about the sort of person you wish you were, and then actually do things (small steps) that bring you closer to what you want.

    • says:

      A terminal diagnosis is like everything else in the world. It is “in the eye of the beholder”. You’re dealt it and it is up to you to decide what you will do with it. I would never “recommend” this to anyone.

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