Missing Instructions


I really don’t know what I’m doing with my life right now. I think the word is “recovering.” I’ve made some big mistakes in my life, and I am starting to clean up the pieces. I had a plan at one point. I don’t really remember what it was, or how it even got started, but I remember having it. Then, somewhere along the lines of my life it just sort of… faded away. I wish I could be more melodramatic about that. So, I will be…

From my earliest memories I had a goal in life. I always had a direction to be walking in, a path to follow. They didn’t always make sense, I have a clear memory of wanting to be a dog at one point in my life, and some of them were clearly megalomaniacal, but there was always a goal. Then, like the morning fog burning up under the heat of the early sun, my road map disintegrated, and I wandered aimlessly.

There we go. That seemed appropriately soap-opera.

It might seem like I’m reaching for it, but it really does feel like that sometimes. When I dropped out of college, I was declaring that I no longer had a purpose worth working towards. I don’t know if I was saying that I was giving up on myself, or if I had just decided that I wasn’t able to do the work anymore. Some part of me probably believes both of those things, but I think for the most part, I was just sick of the pressure I was putting on myself. For years I never gave myself respite, and I thought that by throwing away the goals I’d manage to let myself have a break for awhile.

For a few years, it did. I just floated through life and I didn’t worry about anything. I made some incredibly unhealthy decisions. I lived like a hermit. I let myself just exist.

It isn’t in my nature to do well without pressure. I’m a slacker, a procrastinator. I’m not very good without direction and instruction.

I need that guidance. I need an outline and, if it’s available a step-by-step instruction sheet.

I’m not the guy that throws away the directions when he assembles some moron-key furniture.


I like to have details, as many details as possible.


But life doesn’t come with instructions, no matter how much assembly is required.

So, years after abandoning my eternal quest for (mostly unobtainable) goals, I’ve started looking for new goals. Something. Anything.

I’m starting to assemble my own step by step instructions.


Unfortunately, They’re still in Swedish.

14 thoughts on “Missing Instructions

  1. Roxanne says:

    Lovely, Matt. Like you, I seem to need the directions in life from time to time too — be it to cook or to make those massive life decisions. And, like you, I’m slowly discovering the joy in making my own instructions and writing my own story… I cannot wait to read the rest of your Reverb-reflections!

    1. Thank you.

      Ultimately, I think we all have to write our own instructions. Like, I’m learning how to cook without a kitchen.

      It’s interesting.

  2. I think your own set of instructions would be far better than anyone else’s. YES. Write your own story. It is awesome and so are you. Love love love to you my dear dear friend.

    1. I love all of you. I need you for my ego to exist. :p

      I want someone else to write my story for a while because my story seems incredibly dark and depressing when I write it.

      I’d rather have someone upbeat write my story.

      You think Jk Rowling is available?

  3. Meredith S says:

    That’s sort of what I did with my Cultivate project. These prompts I’m sharing? They’re a step-by-step guide for me to figure out how to get to that next step — without hating life at the current step. Sometimes you’ve just got to sit down, think about what you want, where you want to be, and what you need to do to enjoy the journey. I hope you find the translated instructions soon!

    1. Maybe I’ll figure it out on my own. It never worked with legos or furniture, but it surely has to work with living, right?

      1. Meredith S says:

        It has to. Maybe that lego house on the box is unattainable — but there sure were some other fun things to build with legos, even if a few found their way under foot.

        1. When I was a kid, I put dragon wings on a scuba lego dude and made the armor from Gargoyles.

          1. Meredith S says:

            Awesome. I think it’s the creative things we do with legos that matter most. Sure, those fancy lego sets look cool on the box, but they seem to invite more desires to shred the instructions and throw legos at the box.

          2. I really, really miss the auquanaughts lego line… I miss legos… I’m gonna buy some legos.

  4. noelrozny says:

    As always, loving the honesty in your words. Your ability to look at where you are in your life and reflect on it is pretty incredible. Also, I loved the title and the ending … for what it’s worth, I’ve had plenty of instructions in my time, but they always seem to become obsolete once a new version is launched. 😉

    1. You have an absolutely amazing way of phrasing, “wallow in self pity,” and I appreciate that. 😀 I think at this point I’d go with an outdated instruction manual if one was available, but I just can’t seem to find one. No matter how much I google.

  5. Did you pick your life from IKEA?

    1. Pffft. I can’t afford Swedish. I bought this life at Big Lots.

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