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Guest Post from a Younger Me 1: Wasted Youth

October 14, 2012

Wasted youth

Waheguru ji ka khalsa, waheguru ji gi fateh.

Meat Loaf sang, “A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age.” As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I’m not sure I’d agree. I would of course prefer to be young and fit and energetic again, but throughout my life, through illnesses and heartache and injury, nothing has been worse than not being able to understand something.

I woke up this morning and attempted to get dressed. I put my left leg into my trousers while sitting on the edge of the bed, then stood up and lifted my right leg to do the same, and collapsed on the bed. It felt like somebody had shot me in the hip. Since then as I’m sitting, there are moments where I adjust my position and I get a sharp shooting pain in my pelvis that reminds me I’m not getting any younger, and it’s got me thinking about how I’ve spent my time on this planet, and how I really should be using it.

I was coming out of the bathroom earlier and noticed the bookcases on my landing. On the left, video games; PC, PS2, Xbox, PS1. In the middle, there are books. Lots of books. Subjects vary, but it’s mostly martial arts, philosophy and religion. There’s some self help stuff there too. To the right is some more books, and some DVDs and videos. On the top of these three is probably something in the vicinity of a hundred videos. Most of this stuff remains unread, unplayed, unwatched.

I have over a thousand DVDs, and that’s just the ones I’ve bought. I have hundreds more of home made or copied discs. I’m afraid to count how many overall, and I’m afraid to count how many books. I have thousands more books in digital format on the PC that I’ve downloaded, bought, shared with me or stolen. Yet how do I spend almost every waking hour? Online, chatting, wasting time. I dislike the physical act of reading,

I find it uncomfortable to sit still for any period of time, but I also find it difficult to concentrate on a book if there are frequent interruptions. Interruptions such as getting up to walk around.

For Christmas my girlfriend got me the book of The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, whose life was cut short by pancreatic cancer. Given three to six months of good health left, he organised what he had learned about life, and what he wanted to pass on to his children, who were at the time too young to be told personally, into a final lecture presented to the university at which he worked, recorded for his children to watch when they were older. The thing that stood out to me most is what time really means. When my dad was in hospital dying, I spent more time with him in those few months than I had for the previous two years. That shameful fact provided some consolation when he died, but the truth of it is I took him for granted, and misused the time we had. I’ll regret that for the rest of my life.

Time is all we truly have, it’s the only true equaliser in life, the common factor between all races and social castes. We all have twenty four hours in a day, and one day our time will run out. While we all share the same number of hours in the day, we don’t all share the number of days we have. Some of us have less than we think.

I’m not expecting to live far beyond 50. My dad died at 56. He smoked for fifty years before the cancer got him. Perhaps I’ll be lucky and outlive him, but for now I’m assuming I’m halfway through my life here, at twenty-five years old. How will I spend my time? I’ve lived in limbo for the last ten years, when the bullying got to me in school. I dropped out when I was 15, and since then I’ve been surfing on a sea of denial. Sometimes it’s been smooth, but on time the waves have threatened to crush and destroy me. I’ve fought depression and anxiety, and come close to losing, only to triumph at the last minute, and ride high for a little while before it catches up with me again. I’ve not been living the dream, I’ve not even been living. I’ve been alive, but barely more than surviving.

So the choice that we have every second comes into play, what will I do with this second, this minute?

“If you can fill this unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, then yours is the world and everything that’s in it, and more than that, you’ll be a man, my son.” – Rudyard Kipling

For this year I hope to take some control back. Improve my health to the degree where I can function better. A healthy body certainly helps a healthy mind. If I can keep my body steady, I have less reason to fear being ill when away from home, and I’ll be less afraid to travel. From there I can branch out. As each fear falls I’ll gain confidence to face others. Must break this chain of failures I have behind me.

I’m not a believer in new year’s resolutions, but I think I’ll have to make it now because I don’t think the gym is open until the new year, but the plan is to start going to the gym twice a week followed immediately by swimming as a means of recovery. I also want to put karate up to twice a week, working up to three times, and as I get more in shape, possibly four. I’m sick of being mediocre. I want to be good at karate, even if I’m never world class I want people to see my overweight self and think “Look at how he moves, despite being a big guy!” I’ve had such compliments directed at me before, I’m quite light on my feet for a big guy, it always makes me feel good, but I want to set a good example to those people who want to try martial arts but think they’re too unfit, etc. I’m barely fit enough to do it, but how else will you train your body to do karate besides doing karate? You can get generally fit, but the only way of getting better at the specific movements is by repetition of those movements.

Bit of a ramble, but that’s my plan anyway. Get better at karate, build up some confidence and dedication, use my time more wisely, and achieve, or at least make a start, on some of the things I’ve been wanted to do for years but been too lazy or too afraid.

But a lot of this has been related to what I was thinking about before writing this, without being that thing. The question is, has my time truly been wasted? It’s certainly not been utilised practically, but it has for the most part been spent doing what I enjoy. Reading, video gaming, listening to music, watching movies. None of these things has made me good at anything but video gaming and watching movies. But it has been enjoyable. Any time, however wasteful, isn’t entirely wasted if you’ve spent it enjoying something. But there’s a time for idle enjoyment, and a time to sweat, to strive, to work, and to achieve, and I find that quite often, sometimes very often, the two overlap, and I find myself idle when I should be working. So onwards we go, for press ups and squats, karate, and learning French.

Love and light.

 
Update: I’ve now got rid of a lot of my stuff. What used to take up seven bookcases, I’ve now separated into what I want to keep until I watch or read, and what I want to sell or give away. What I want to keep now takes up only two bookcases (though I have another two with loose bits on, it’s mostly my scanner, aromatherapy oils and some loose papers, and a stack of books I intend to read next. My girlfriend and I broke up November 2011, so I went back to drifting for a long time, but I am starting to make progress, which I’ll blog again soon. For a blog called Daniel Gets a Life, I’ve posted very little about Daniel, so I’ll get on that soon with some updates about what I’m up to and what I’m planning. Until then, enjoy this post, a rare moment of pure motivation ^.^

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