What Do I Want?
When it’s all said and done, all I want is a life well-lived.
I want to have lived a life where I tried my best to be a good man, a good husband, a good father, a good son, a good brother, a good friend, a good citizen of the world, and ultimately, a good person. That’s all I can ask for, and I’m honestly satisfied with that. If I did my best to be all of these things, I can die a happy man.
My younger self would think it’s such a cop out answer because it’s not filled with things like leaving a legacy, amassing generational wealth, trying to be the greatest at something, or being extremely successful and wealthy and famous—things that on the surface are the things that people ought to want. But wisdom comes with age, and age comes with contentment, and contentment comes with peace of mind and accepting that I won’t be able to do all the things I want to do in this lifetime or be all the things that I want to be because life has inevitable tradeoffs and compromises1. And that’s fine.
Is this accepting defeat? I used to think so, but now I don’t. If anything, it’s this acceptance that gives me a sense of great calm and freedom. Being attuned to the finitude of life and that it will all come to a screeching end and the fact that I don’t know when that will be for me instead helps me focus on the things that I value the most. It helps me become one with the things that I do really want for myself, and not because of the external rewards that it will give me (though make no mistake, those are also part of the equation) but because I value the intrinsic rewards that something might have for me if something gives me joy in and of itself.
Many of the things we think we want are simply conditioned—things that society has taught us to want even if we don’t actually want them, or mimetic—things that we only want because they’re wanted by others because it gives us a certain type of status. But in Kendrick’s words, if you take all that bullshit off, what do you have?2 I’m human so I’m also guilty of these things. And I’m not a monk so I’m not sure if I can truly rid myself of desire, but it helps to build the awareness and to at least have the courage to constantly ask the question: What is it that I really want in this life?
An even bigger sign of maturity is understanding that this is also temporary. That the things I want can change at any moment in time because life is dynamic, and I have permission to change my perception of what I want and how much I value what I want because I’m a constantly evolving entity who is engaging with the universe. And maybe most important of all, that having or doing the things that I want does not mean I will no longer experience pain in my life and that I’ll attain perpetual happiness. Quite the opposite. It’s merely a reflection of my values and who I believe I am and where I believe my trajectory should go at a given moment in time. So what’s the value if they might change anyway? Is this just an excuse, an escape hatch, an out in case I don’t get them? I don’t believe so. This will get meta, but having a list of things that I value in and of itself, I believe, is valuable in of itself. It’s manifesting a direction, and having a sense of direction especially a written one is more valuable than not having one. It allows me to see where I want to go and who is the person I need to become and what are my barriers to achieving them and what it is that I need to do on a consistent basis in order to get there. The exercise is valuable in itself not just because of the nature to orient towards a particular future, but because it demands a thorough inspection of who I am and how I see myself at this very moment.
And that is beautiful just by itself. Just as how it was beautiful when I imagined of what I wanted when I was 9 years old when my imagination started to enter new levels, and when I was 14-years old when I was exploring my creativity as an immigrant high school student in Yonkers, New York, and when I was 23-years old desperately trying to find my way in the world after college. And it will be beautiful each time I do this exercise because of all the reasons I stated above.
So what else do I want aside from the things I’ve listed at the beginning of this post, as of February 2023? And more importantly, why do I want them (purpose) and what do I need to do (path)?
There are a couple main themes and specific objectives that I came up with. And my guiding question for this is: “What would I do if I only had a few years to live?” It was a good forcing function to really understand what I want out of my life:
I want to have platforms for creation to make soulful things that inspire and positively impact others.
These are platforms I can leverage to create things because I want something to exist, because I want to inspire others, and because there can also be external reward. To do this, I need to:
1. Use Feel Eternity, my design studio, to create beautiful impactful things that I want to see in the world
My greatest asset is my ability to design and my greatest gift is my imagination. My calling is to make the world better, and it starts with being a designer—continuing to sharpen my skills and create assets that maximize and spread the impact I can create.
What I need to do:
- Dedicate time to improve my design skills on a daily basis
- Dedicate time to design a conceptual project on a weekly basis
- Dedicate time to work on and expand my business systems (high-value products and services that have a drastic measurable difference for people who use them)
2. Use my blog and social platforms as a creative outlet to refine my worldview and share what I learn along the way
Writing gives me peace. It’s my favorite medium to use to express myself. I’ve loved writing since I was a child, and even went to university to get better as a writer (and my original goal was to be a professional writer). My purpose more than anything, is because I love writing and it gives me clarity and helps me become a better person.
What I need to do:
- I need to write something every week. Do I need to post it publicly? Maybe not, but I need to develop the writing muscle again.
- Share what I write and what inspires me if I feel it’s worth sharing
- Create playlists every month. Music is a time capsule for me and I’ve enjoyed creating mixtapes in the past (with designed posters). Shout out to Joe Kay of Soulection and Virgil as huge inspirations for this.
3. Use the companies I’m working with as engines for innovation and change to help the underserved
I’m fortunate to have worked on professional projects that have changed people’s lives. They were enjoyable to build because I’ve got to work with really smart talented people and it required a lot of creativity and courage. Having this is a great advantage because it’s both an incredible opportunity to learn but also to apply those learnings in real life, build something special that can change a lot of people’s lives for the better, with the potential to be rewarded handsomely for it. Most of all, I have the skills and experience and the autonomy to do this.
What I need to do:
- Really be a leader and spearhead projects that I believe will move the needle to help the business survive and thrive
- Design processes and systems that will help the creation of these projects to be more effective and efficient
- Put myself out there and meet people who are also working in the space to help the entire community
4. Publish books—collection of essays, a non-fiction, and poetry
This can only happen if I start exercising the writing muscle starting with this blog. Short posts lead to longer essays. Longer essays lead to books. And poetry carries a unique beauty and power in the way that it can captivate through words with harmonic feeling. I love to write because they are tools for change: change in someone’s perspective, opinion, belief, and ultimately, action (if only for myself). There is power in curiosity and persuasion and making others see things in a way that moves them (especially me) into being.
What I need to do: Write.
5. Help others in their journey.
I used to be obsessed with “impact at scale” but real impact starts on a 1-to-1 basis and when you give without asking or needing anything in return. There’s so many people I can help: starting with my own community, my fellow peers, and others who aspire to do what I do. And there’s so many ways to help: money, time, advice, support, and generally just trying to be a good human being.
What I need to do: Be open. Reach out.
There’s more but they’re deeply personal and I’d rather keep them close to the chest. But these three main themes—(1) being a good man, (2) having platforms for creativity and impact, and (3) creating bodies of work that reflect my life philosophy through art—are enough to give me a sense of direction that align with my main values of Play, Create, Love. They help me learn, connect with people, and most of all, connect with my deepest truest self.
Ultimately, they help me lead a good life that I’ve defined for myself. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
What brought this home for me is a video from Struthless titled “How to find your Direction in Life (a guide).” The three main points: 1) We are on a finite timeline, 2) Compromise is inevitable, and 3) We need to cultivate self-belief (which requires questioning your limiting beliefs).↩︎
The first verse of Kendrick Lamar’s N-95 is a gripping reflection.↩︎
March 1, 2023