Chris Padilla/Blog / Notes

30 on 30

My first draft of this, I'll be honest, waxed poetic on time and identity. I wrote about my Saturn Return, the transient nature of reality, and how we are, in essence, a part of the universe observing itself.


So instead, here's my listicle of 30 lessons learned leading up to this big, hairy landmark.

30 Lessons

  1. Enthusiasm is the most important compass. I think about this a lot when it comes to planning my own future. I have no idea what will make me happy tomorrow. And that's ok! There will always be something to be excited about and moving towards!

  2. Everything has diminishing returns at some point. Money, networking connections, living in excess, even living a balanced life to a degree. Aim for 80% in most things, that's the sweet spot of effort and reward.

  3. Life happens in seasons. If you're a high achieving type, it's easy to fall into the idea that production should always stay high. But we need those slow periods for reflection and recharging. A cliche at this point. But really feeling this on a month to month, year to year, decade to decade level has been powerful.

  4. Eat well. Seriously.

  5. Sleep. Another boring one, but come on! It's really important! I can hear you now: "What's next, are you going to tell us to exercise?!"

  6. Exercise. Get out of your head and into your body. A good walk is great medicine.

  7. It all works out in the end. It's hard to know this without having a few lived experiences of genuine challenge under your belt. I feel like I'm just getting there. But trust me. It all works out in the end. In every way, this too shall pass.

  8. Success is not a direct result of effort. Don't get me wrong, effort is wildly important. But it's actually effort multiplied by a much, much, much larger variable of luck, and a third variable of resources (eg "talent" or inclination). A big lesson late in my 20s has been to accept this and use it. Work steadily, stay humble, and look out for open opportunities. It's much more enjoyable than the brute force method.

  9. On n'arrive jamais. One never arrives. (Quoting musicians here for you Eugene Rousseau / Marcel Mule fans!) The anticipation is greater (and really lots more fun!) than the realization. Take time

  10. Keep in touch. Doing this in an intentional, genuine routine is an easy way to get the ol' warm n fuzzies.

  11. Don't take anything too seriously. Seriously.

  12. Back up your files!! I grew up having to reinstall windows on our home PC every couple of years. It wasn't a big deal when it was just kidpix files on there. But now that all of my work is digital, it's a necessity.

  13. Make time for personal creative projects. Even when what you do for work is creative. This has been a lifeline for me. There are so many reasons for it. It's fun, you learn so much by doing it, you discover identity through it. And anything works! Blogging, Twitch streaming, fan fiction. Actually, Vonnegut says it best: ". . . Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow."

  14. Attention is the greatest gift to give and receive. Paraphrasing from Simone Weil, as discovered on the blog formerly known as Brain Pickings.

  15. Acceptance as a horizon. Just starting on the path of learning this one. Probably the most important one on the list. Acceptance of others and self is wildly intertwined. Part of growing up is simultaneously being open to the differences in others and yourself. A tricky thing, too big for a listicle!

  16. Beware the differences between your genuine values and societal values. Again, enthusiasm helps here in parsing which is which.

  17. There's greater wisdom in the gut than we give credit for. Some of my better decisions were against reason and in favor of intuition.

  18. Be who you are now. A lesson from teaching music to kids. Pardon the philosophical bent here: A 6th grader's purpose isn't to grow up or to learn all their scales for 7th grade. It's to be a 6th grader. We're all working towards something, but losing sight of who we are now takes away from the unique joys of where we are. The best lessons I taught were ones where we savored enthusiasm. Particularly for beginners, savoring the newness of learning a song they were inspired by. (Sometimes it was Megalovania...actually, most of the time it was Megalovania.) And yeah, then we did some scale work too.

  19. Do something for work, and something else for creativity's sake. I'm here to say it's true, both halves make a greater whole. The nice thing is that the vehicle for money can be inspiring too — coding and music both support each other creatively for me.

  20. Books are great. Go pick one up! Remember how CRAZY BONKERS it is that you and I are connecting minds right now across TIIIIME AND SPAAAACE - through the magic of printed text!

  21. Invest in your tools. When I started at UT, I was simultaneously playfully poked at for playing on awkward mouthpieces, and I was praised for making them work. BUT after buying newer, nicer setups, it was just easier to sound good and more fun to play the dang horn!

  22. You don't need to be a gear-head. Then again, I was learning to code on a $200 chromebook that I had to install linux onto. Build times took ages. But it got me here. 🤷‍♂️

  23. There's so much time. Back to no. 18. Not so much a lesson as much as an observation. The 20s to me felt like a race to Arrive and find stable ground. Once you have it, somewhere between 28 and 36 for most folks I talk to, the world opens up. So savor whichever stage you're in, the striving or the sustaining. Both have their own beauty on the journey.

  24. It's ok to give up on something partway through! Thanks for reading! 👋