What do I need to survive? From 10 to 1

When we left off last time, I had narrowed my list of twenty items for survival down to ten. The ten items are:

writing, math, friends, community, love, happiness, humor, books, peace of mind, growth

Now let’s cut this list again, this time to five.

Growth goes first. Yes, I will go stagnant, but change and intellectual challenge are already gone, so I probably won’t miss growth all that much after those two.

Community goes next, not because I don’t value it any less, but because in the right situation, community and familiy can be viewed as friends. This is the ideal situation. This is a pretty brutal cut. For those who don’t know, community is part of what keeps me coming back to NaNoWriMo every year and what keeps me so involved there.

Math is the next to leave. No departure is easy, especially now, but this one is the newest item to make a stronghold on the list. After all, math became cool to me just a few years ago, and now I can’t imagine life without it in some form.

Next goes humor. I have to be able to laugh at things, but what would I rather have, laughter or friends? or love? or peace of mind? or writing? or anything else that’s left? I think I’ll take everything else.

Next comes the big one: books. Ouch. Now I’ve lost most of my escape methods, and now I’m cutting off the last one? That’s harsh. Still, I’d rather write than read, and (believe it or not), I’ll usually go out with a friend over staying in to read a book, but I’ll still take a book or a notebook with me on the way to meeting them.

Now we’re down to five: writing, friends, happiness, love, and peace of mind. Love and friends go. This might be surprising. At the performance that inspired this series of entries, one dancer had love as an essential item, while another had friends. I’ve lived without friends, and I’ve simply existed before without feeling love for anything–people, writing, math, anything else.

Writing. Happiness. Peace of mind. And the winner is…


If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that I thrive most when I’m happy, when I’m in an environment that allows me to thrive. And what makes me happy? The other nineteen items on this list and then some.

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