Paris, France

July 15, 2018

A Reckoning

It's taken me a few weeks to work out how to put this one into words. I guess the best place to start is at the beginning.

Two years ago, here in Paris, I went through my two year life plan, made a set of goals aligned with my values and headed boldly to make those two years the best I'd ever had.

This June was two years later - time for me to look back, see how I did, and see where I wanted to go next.

I knew that along the way, a lot of unexpected things had happened - I'd fallen in love, gotten married, wrestled and wrestled with trying to get residence in a country that didn't seem particularly interested in having me there.

I knew I'd fallen out of touch with Ink and Feet, writing to you, making my living by making art and things that helped us be our best selves.

But it turned out there was another big thing I didn't know.

See, a few weeks after I got to Paris this summer, I started that same two-year life planning process.

I discovered some neat insights along the way - like that I was in so many ways, the still same person. That words still mattered. That making a difference mattered. That the life-planning course I'd made two years ago was still really, really good.

But on the fourth day, I decided to compare my answers to the ones I'd given two years ago - and ran smack into a deeply uncomfortable truth.

They had the same spirit - but in every way, they were worse.

I looked over to the mirror that's next to my desk here, and caught a look at myself - and it hit me, full on.

I'm not better than I was two years ago.

I could look around at lots of events and reasons why and excuses. But what I couldn't find was ways I'd grown. Things I'd learned about myself or the world. I couldn't look myself in the eye and say honestly that this me was a better man than that one.

And man, man, man, did that sting.

Because despite all the things that happened in the past couple years, I knew that that truth - that one was all on me.

Nobody else was responsible for making sure I woke up and became a better man today than I was yesterday - nobody could even make it happen if they wanted to. I was the one who had messed this up. And it was going to be on me to fix it.

There's more to this story, more to tell you about my journey since, my plans for the next two years, and there will be plenty of time to tell it.

But first, I wanted to just pause, and unpack that moment with you.

Maybe you've had a moment of reckoning like this, too. Maybe you haven't. Either way, I'm reasonably sure they're a part of being human.

I go all over the place with what I think these letters are about, what they're doing, what I'm doing, and why it is that you read them and you keep telling your friends to read them - and I think maybe it's this:

They're just a little window into what it's like to be human, for each of us. A little way to be connected, to know we're not alone, to say "Hey. Yeah. That happened to me too."

It's the way I feel, too, when you and your fellow readers write back, share your stories, let me into your world. Even when I don't get to reply, I do read them, and those little glimpses light me up, make me feel like we really are all in this thing together.

Thank you for sharing a little of your life with me. And thanks for sharing a bit of mine.

See you next week,

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I read this week was this ancient article on Lady Gaga, Madonna, and how video games represent women. It made me think about all three, and if eight years on, we're finally seeing things change.

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