Saturday, 2 May 2009

What will you do today that is worthy of me?

Denis-Jose woke up to the sound of a strange voice. what was it saying? it was muffled. Actually the voice wasn't strange. He recognised it, but hadn't heard it in a long time. It seemed to be coming from across the room. From the... laptop computer? Was he dreaming? Possibly.

Sitting up straight, he shook himself awake. He was in a strange bed. In a strange house. Where was he? Yokohama! At a friends place. Saturday morning. He had to get to the airport! He jumped out of bed.

A little while later, cup of tea in hand, he could still hear the voice. It happened every time he looked at the laptop. It was his own voice. coming out of the laptop speaker. What the...??? No, wait... it wasn't coming from the laptop at all. That was a cleverly constructed illusion, created by his own mind to attract his attention. It was coming from inside his head. It was that little voice that he normally heard in the wee hours, after a night of...

The voice got louder. For some reason he could hear the words clearly this morning. "You're running out of time." it said. "When are you going to get on with it?"

* * * * *

Recently I've been feeling unfulfilled. Socially, at work, at home. The question I've been asking myself is why? why, why why? I work in a creative field. I live in a strange and exciting place. I am very skilled at the things I do. I earn good money and can have nearly any reasonable material thing I want. I travel a lot. I've been around the block so many times I can do the journey backwards... so why am I not satisfied?

After my dad died I started having anxiety & panic attacks. Not at first, but a few months later. I'd be out partying or working long hours, get tired and start thinking irrationally. I would hear a voice in my head saying you can't keep doing this. you're running out of time. If you keep this up you know what will happen and then POW! - panic attack! It was very unpleasant. The doctor told me it was a fear of death. That's what I thought too. I mean, as well as my dad, I also lost my grandmother, my uncle and a close friend, all within a 6 month period. On top of that I was leading a debauched & reckless lifestyle!

So I stopped partying so hard. I became more concerned about my health. I changed my work habits. Hell, I moved to the other side of the world and completely changed my lifestyle....

But now it's the second anniversary of my dads death and, even though everything around me is different, the unsettled feeling - the voice - is still with me. Sure the harsh 'rush me to the hospital' attacks have subsided, but I still feel their spectre in the background. Why?

And then it struck me - the feeling was there already! I just didn't notice it before he died. I had no frame of reference. It wasn't about death at all. It was about achievement. About wasted potential and resources. I was pissing my life away for the sake of guilty pleasures and deep inside i knew it.

When my father was my age he had reached the top of his trade, had a family and hadn't given up yet. He fought his way from nothing to give us everything. And what have I done with it?

I started out well. I had a good education, a good career, well travelled from an early age. Most people would say that by the time I was 30 I could be considered a successful young man. But somewhere it went very wrong. Bad business moves, broken relationships, financial ruin, health issues.

At then at some point I stopped doing creative things and only thought about doing them. That seems to have lasted for a very long time. 8 years I think. Maybe more. I stopped creating content. I stop running my list. I stop organizing events. I stop painting & drawing. I stopped running my radio station. I stopped playing musical instruments. I stopped taking pictures. I stopped writing stories. I even stopped writing my diary.

I just stopped.

All I did was work and try to pay off my bills and debts, thinking that they were the cause of my problems. Stuck in woes of the past and the things that nearly worked out but didn't. Depressed that I was in my mid to late 30's and never really lived up to my creative potential.

It's easy to blame anxiety attacks & dissatisfaction on unhealthy living and financial problems isn't it? But now it occurs to me that its been something different all along.

It's a feeling of running out of time.

So when I woke up in a strange bed, in a strange city staring across the room at my friends Macbook just sitting there... calling me....

It made me think about a TED talk I saw by JJ Abrahms. In it he talks about mystery boxes, his grandfather and his laptop amongst other things. My friends Macbook seemed to be doing what his did. It was saying "what are you going to do today that is worthy of me?"

And you know what? Today, I'm ready for it.

Welcome to the first page of the rest of my life.