The disillusion of self
In the interest of preserving your time, I am front-loading the conclusion of this written piece of excrement: You’re running a race against time and social stipulations, which, the older you become, the more the race leads to the discovery that you sold out long before you knew what your actual value is. Your value is: Time.
Queue; the midlife crisis. The pivotal moment when an individual reaches the tipping point between burning out and the realization that they sold out in hopes to attain something that, at some point in the past, appeared to be of importance. It is, through the culmination of your personal midlife crisis, that you attempt to turn back time. Visualize inflated pop-culture images of men in their Corvettes, others start to accumulate notches in their belts, stamped by women who could be their daughters. Women, on the other hand, find a second wind by getting (back) in shape, rolling up in a ‘cutesy’ sports car, courtesy of the ever busy and successful husband, cougaring their claws into some young man-flesh. Of course, in all those interactions, one can find the truest form of symbiosis: Both participants are ‘takers’, and giving only happens under the cloak of retrieving something of value for themselves. The interests are fueled by self fulfillment, the delivery mechanism is the ‘sugar dad’ or the ‘cougar mom’. In essence, the exchange isn’t cloaked by false pretenses. It is, reminiscent of the whoring business, the truest form of an exchange; both parties know exactly what they are getting and how much they ‘pay’ for services received and rendered.
Yet, deviating from the carved markings that Hollywood left behind, there are those who discovered that their true nature is fundamentally contradictory to what they have been conditioned to ‘stand for’. Their epiphanies become their inner battle grounds. The HR representative desires to become the songwriter, a nurse turns to acting, a business owner desires to reinvent herself to become an adventurer and filmmaker, the consultant wants to become a podcaster. The list goes on and it is fundamentally influenced by those who want to discover a more holistic side of life. Around the corner smirks one Abraham Maslow. Though I am aware that you’re ‘on to me’, I do feel the need to point toward the hierachy of needs, topped by ‘self actualization’ — the desire to be…to be…come.
Somewhere in there, I’m sure you can apply your own standards and labels to what ‘is’ vs. what you’d ‘like it to be’. Thus the question lingers; who are you? Where do you want to be? What’s holding you back from getting there? Your clock is counting down from 28.000, give or take. If you’re 45 years old at the time of this writing, you’ve also wracked up 16.425 days that go against your overall countdown timer. You’re more than 50% gone. If you find yourself momentarily stunned by the cunning mathematics, snap out of it; time IS of the essence.
Evaluate the questions and build your theme of excuses. What went wrong, when did you take the wrong turn, and can all this be reversed. The most meaningful pop-culture reference I can conjure is Supertramp’s “Logical Song” — you were doomed before you had a fighting chance.
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.
Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,
Liberal, fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re
Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!
It wasn’t your fault, it’s all societal conditioning, expectation management and the successful suppression of individualism by telling you that ‘certain things’ are a ‘certain way.’
Shortly before you arrived at this article, admittedly written by a midlife crises crusader, you took stock of your own existence: somewhere along the way, you got older, wiser and simply gave just a little less of a fuck about the perceptions of others. You started paying attention to research that polled geriatric nurses, reflecting upon their experiences derived through patients who were approaching their last breaths. The lessons learned from those who saw life fading away while confined to a room outside of their own comfort zone, summarize to the same common denominators: (from: http://thedailypositive.com/top-10-regrets-dying/)
1. I never pursued my dreams and aspirations.
2. I worked too much and never made time for my family.
3. I should have made more time for my friends.
4. I should have said ‘I love you’ a lot more.
5. I should have spoken my mind instead of holding back and resenting things.
6. I should have been the bigger person and resolved my problems.
7. I wish I had children.
8. I should have saved more money for my retirement.
9. Not having the courage to live truthfully.
10. Happiness is a Choice, I wish I knew that earlier.
Among those regrets, the narrative is openly visible; most people realize the value of their life at a time when their life is reaching its expiration date. While most of those who are now busy fading away, are facing death as inevitability, their epiphany comes too late; they never have truly lived. What is your safety worth, when at the end of the day, all it did was to preclude you from coming alive? To them, the ultimate conclusion was that life had never been about riches, but about the accumulation of wealth expressed through experiences, love and connections, or through their emotional vaults filled to the brim with having made a difference in the lives of others, or through having inspired others to realize their own value before they turn into shells of themselves, only to regret not having lived before their life is over.
If you made it this far, I’m assuming you’re likely shaking your head right now; “Oh great, another holistic, ‘become who you were meant to be’ write up! Give me a break already!”
I admit, I am not reinventing the wheel, but I’m trying to reframe it. This is not about performance psychology, or some Tony Robbins style rehash of pre-existing philosophy of ‘you can walk over coals’. Fuck that. This is all about; figure out what you’re worth. Not what you’re worth to others in terms of monetary compensation, but what the value of your time is — to you. It doesn’t matter what others value your time at. All that matters is that you can determine the value of YOUR time — for YOURSELF! (pardon the caps lock) Once you determined the value of your time, and then spend that one currency that cannot be recreated in the way you see fit, you’ll rebirth yourself. Why am I framing it like this? Because, today, on the way home, you may get into your car for the very last time. Or, while I crafted this piece, the open-carry gentleman who sat across from me at the coffee shop, could have been a raging lunatic and all you would have had to read was…..an unfinished thought process. Point is…you don’t know whether you have another 5 minutes, 5 weeks, months, years or decades. Time is fleeting, experiences can be made right now…tick…tock. You cannot turn back time, but you can grab the time you have left and determine its value to you. You do have a choice. Take control or be controlled. Use up your own time, for your own purposes. Become self serving in how you spend your ever dwindling dividends. For only when you serve yourself well, will you be of any true use to others, when they embark on their efforts to become self-serving. It’s cyclical.
Diogenes tips his hat; Live up to your own value and then spend your currency in the way you see fit, because anything other than that, is nothing but a delusion of self.