“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way”
Throughout my high school and college years, my favorite hobby was wasting time. I swear, I would do anything at all as long as it didn’t involve work or stepping out of my comfort zone. Video games, TV, beer, parties…If I didn’t have to push myself to accomplish it, I was happy doing it.
Looking back on those days, I could place the blame on any of a number of factors: My boring town had nothing better to do; I was still living at home and didn’t have a reason to push myself; I wasn’t motivated to do any better; It was easier; I was young.
I was also pretty stupid.
“Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”
It’s incredibly ironic that I spent so much time listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon but never seemed to actually hear the message it conveyed. And, as prophesied, here I am a decade later wondering why I wasted so much of my life doing absolutely nothing.
“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death”
After I moved in with my girlfriend (who I’ve since made my wife–the one positive thing I’ve done in the past ten years), reality hit me that I’d have to start pulling my own weight. I now had more bills to pay than ever before, and a future and family to save for all at the same time. My thinning hair and aching back were also daily reminders that I wasn’t getting any younger, and the idea that I wasted my youth waiting for something better to come along began to really sink in.
So how did I get over it? To be honest, necessity made it thus. Now that I didn’t live with my parents, I was actually (*GASP*) responsible for myself. Food didn’t magically appear; neither did toilet paper. The house wasn’t magically clean after I came home from work. Nobody was there to guide me through my daily life.
But the best part about it all is the learning curve was not nearly as tough as I thought it’d be. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, but a body in motion will keep pressing forward. All those years of doing absolutely nothing instantly melted away.
Within weeks of living with my girlfriend, I had transformed into a completely different person. I no longer was content sitting around watching Seinfeld reruns. I actually started to want to get up and out, even if it was only for a trip to Target. In the past, I yearned for the days when I had nothing to do. Now, I can’t stand sitting still for more than 20 minutes at a time. My comfort zone may still be fairly small, but now I wake up each day thinking of ways to expand it ever so slightly. I used to be happiest when I was most comfortable; now, a bit of discomfort actually feels natural to me.
“Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say”
And what do I have to show for it? Well, for one thing, I’ve switched careers and now actually feel like I’m doing something with myself rather than going through the motions. Despite the fact that I used to work 12 hour days, I feel busier than ever now that I’m pursuing a longtime goal that I’d never gotten off the ground floor with before. I’ve discovered I have more opportunities than I ever thought I’d have, and have made connections with hundreds of like-minded people through my writing. And, perhaps best of all, the more I expand my comfort zone, the easier it gets to expand it even further.
My life may not have turned out the way I’d thought it would ten years ago, but I don’t really even know what I expected. All I know is I wish I had gotten up and out sooner.
Anyone else out there feel like they missed out on a good chunk of their life, or had an epiphany which caused you to make life-altering decisions?