Most of the time...

I wouldn't change it if I could

When I was younger, this is the sort of thing I would’ve obsessed over. I’d have been all over this. I’d have spent hours, if not days, pondering how to respond to this. Thinking about how other people would regard my accomplishments, or even if they were worth noting.

Not now.

It’s not that I haven’t thought about it. I have: I’m about two weeks and change away from my birthday, and the combination of that and the incipient end of this benighted decade compel my reflection.

But my truth is this: I've been working hard to realize that my worth is greater than the sum of my accomplishments.

It’s hard! I struggle with this so much, especially when I compare my life to that of other people I know. I dreamed wildly. I wanted to run for office; I’d imagine running for Senate, or for governor. Or if not that, running someone’s campaign. Or working at the White House.

I remember turning to my friend Jessica, the night that Barack Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in Denver, and boastfully predicted I’d be up on that stage someday. She humored me, and gently tried knocking some sense in me.

It hasn’t happened; probably won’t happen. Truth is, I’ve probably missed my shot at doing these things. I’ve made different decisions that led me down different paths from the ones I dreamed about then. It’s neither good nor bad; it just is. It’s tough accepting that; dreams die hard; but I don’t have a choice, and the alternative is just making myself miserable. What matters is considering my worth as a person separately from an arbitrary list of accomplishments.

We’re all more than that.

So you can tally up a list of things you’ve accomplished these last ten years. That’s fine. Let me suggest, instead, another thing: ask your self, What's one thing about your life today that would have happily surprised 2010 you?

For me, the answer is living in New York City.

Life takes us in unexpected directions, and reflecting on those changes creates anticipation for a delightful future. Okay, maybe not “delightful” — I have a hard time looking at things from that perspective, especially in 2019, but if you can, great! — but I think this is a more affirming way of reflecting on the past decade than just listing out things we’ve done.

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It’s been an extraordinarily long week for me; don’t know about you, but I think we could all use some palate cleansers. Therefore: here are various things that caught my eye this week.

This is a pretty even-handed profile of Pete Buttigieg, by 538’s Clare Malone. I’m pretty critical of Buttigieg, not because he’s not “ready” to be President - the Presidency is a sui generis office, you can’t really train for it - but because I get the strong impression his campaign is all about looking like it’s fighting injustice without actually doing anything about it. His policy positions and his rhetoric are all carefully designed to not upset a status quo that’s frankly untenable.

Albert Burneko gets at those elements of Buttigieg’s campaign in a scathing profile published in The Outline. His profile uses Buttigieg as a take-off to really take on the object of his piece: political reporters.

Buttigieg’s rise stands in stark contrast to the struggles that candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and especially Julián Castro are going through now. Castro, especially, has impressed me. He’s really using his campaign to say what he believes and center people too often forgotten and marginalized. That’s why I’m particularly frustrated that Castro didn’t qualify for next week’s Democratic debate, while candidates like Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard have.

I’ve always enjoyed Miles Klee’s commentary, and his essay on why “OK, boomer” isn’t an ageist slur is on point. It’s not about age, it’s about status and power and privilege.

This is simply a fascinating look at how someone you’ll never expect wrote probably the best original movie song of this year.

Speaking of fascinating: have you ever wondered how big space is? Neal Agarwal puts it all into perspective right here.

I love “Hot Ones” because the host, Sean Evans, gives a master class in how to interview someone every. single. time. Bijan Stephens breaks it all down here.

Have you ever wondered what it would take to build a small (emphasis on small) social network for you and your friends? Darius Kazemi wrote a guide for how to do it using Mastodon.

I’ll close out with a poem by Clint Smith that’s really stuck with me ever since I first read it.

When people say we have made it through worse before

all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
of those who did not make it, those who did not
survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who

did not live to watch the parade roll down the street.
I have grown accustomed to a lifetime of aphorisms
meant to assuage my fears, pithy sayings meant to

convey that everything ends up fine in the end. There is no
solace in rearranging language to make a different word
tell the same lie. Sometimes the moral arc of the universe

does not bend in a direction that will comfort us.
Sometimes it bends in ways we don’t expect & there are
people who fall off in the process. Please, dear reader,

do not say I am hopeless, I believe there is a better future
to fight for, I simply accept the possibility that I may not
live to see it. I have grown weary of telling myself lies

that I might one day begin to believe. We are not all left
standing after the war has ended. Some of us have
become ghosts by the time the dust has settled.

Thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being a friend, and thank you for being yourself. I love you, just as you are, for all your glorious flaws and foibles. If you need anything, or you have any questions, simply reply to this.