1. never forget: social media is just an optical illusion. I'm aware that my life may seem all rosy from (edited + curated) photos. I choose to share only the beautiful things, because life hands us enough offline tragedies and beautiful things inspire and uplift me. And I hope they do the same for you. But there's a lot of pain too. And beauty. The two often seem intertwined. What I'm saying, is, social media is an incomplete portrayal.
2. happiness is a skill, not a given. I hope my 30s will be my best and most fruitful decade yet.
3. People say travel when you're old. I say, travel while you're young and agile because getting old is a privilege, not a guarantee. Travel is expensive if you do expensive things. I've worked it out where it's way cheaper (and more interesting) than being at home. You have to be inventive, flexible, and open to just about every kind of experience. Finding someone who will want to pursue this type of lifestyle with you is rare and lucky. Squat toilets and bucket showers and beds Velcroed to the wall are not for everyone. (Aaron is a trooper.)
4: my view on this may change as my wrinkles deepen but for now: "please don't retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them." -Anna Magnani
5. Love and friendships keep me alive. No matter how old we get, we always miss our parents - simultaneously crave and reject family. I've spent the past year circling the globe to get in touch with my roots, to find and meet my parents' friends from Jakarta to Los Angeles. I've re-tuned my internal compass. I've spread dad's ashes and collected old letters and photos and memories - and some odd objects, including an antique penis shield my father once gifted a friend. My suitcase is filled with all kinds of beautiful, strange things. So is my soul.
6. Don't be afraid to feel. Our minds are the true danger, how we filter and interpret and judge the feelings. Going from sensation to feeling to thought can be so automatic that we feel like we have no control or choice - but we do. Turn the mind in your favor.
7. Life's too short to be a smug asshole. Just don't be one. At some point, your character becomes a choice. We all have those people in our lives who measure success or worthiness based on their skewed value system. It's easy to hit a home run with a lead off 3rd base.
8. Take more risks. Evolve. Face fears (still working on this one). Live and let live.