When will I die?

It is this same morbid question that we ask ourselves on a regular basis. When will I die? What will I achieve before then? How will I be remembered?

On top of our own morbid internal voices which urge at us to lift ourselves from the mundane existence to the higher levels of spirituality, social status, and career. The seemingly recent explosion of the self improvement craze has us all, at one point or another, seeking the next best diet, sleeping plan, exercise regime, self help book, and the list goes on.

Without a clear personal direction is the desire for self improvement for the sake of itself beneficial and even sustainable? Without a strong enough goal to strive for do we risk desensitising ourselves to the proposed benefits of self improvement in such a saturated industry with outlandish claims? Humans have a great ability to subconsciously ignore that which is not immediately important, regardless of the weight it may have on future tasks or endeavours.

An interesting example to ponder is the Tikker wristwatch http://mytikker.com/. I came across this while searching for a watch with the ability to countdown ones life (seems to provide a average life expectancy based on certain parameters similar to http://www.poodwaddle.com/Life/). It seems to deliver, although I would have preferred a traditional 12 hour analog face with midnight representing birth and death. 

Without a clear life direction would this serve as constant reminder of the passing time and prompt us to get our life in order or would the gimmick soon wear off and precedence be given to immediately important endeavours? 

Isn’t that the problem in the first place? We have so many constant reminders about our impending doom such as birthdays, new years, and the ageing of our mortal forms. The problem is not that we are not reminded about the fact that time is passing. The problem is that the reminders are too frequent and insignificant for us to hold any weight in comparison to the short span of our often volatile situations.

In terms of death, let the mystery of when remain. Steer your short and longterm paths toward true happiness and your purpose will soon follow.

Advertisements

Travel into your past

One of the results of my obsession for time is the utter shock and, at times, the despair that I have little to no recollection of the detailed actions, thoughts, and feelings which have comprised up of my life. The brain is a processing powerhouse and is extremely good at retiring memories which it deems irrelevant to survival.

Over the last 10 or so years I have kept scrapbook of sorts, which contains the notes, ramblings, and (as I probably thought at the time) the stroke of genius that would change the world :P. I very rarely went back to read these once they were entered and some almost seem as though they were written by another.

As I go through these obscure and unstructured thoughts, certain patterns in my thought method, ideology, and feelings creep up. It is almost as though I have learned the same lessons, come to the same conclusions, and asked the same questions multiple times in different contexts over very wide timescales (separated by years and years). And, as a result, the following questions have been keeping me up at night over the last 3 or so years.

How many times do we learn the same lesson before it sticks?

How else could I record about my past? And what useful information could be extrapolated to speed up this learning process.

And, most importantly, how could my lessons impact others facing the same obstacles and vice versa.

I’m going to finish (for now) with this amazing TED video to help communicate the importance and sheer magnificence of visiting one’s own past to learn.

The stranger and the dead

With a few hours at my disposal, I found myself dawdling lost in thought, at a cemetery.

Every so often I would stop at one of the stones, and where legible, read the inscription which would encapsulate the life of the person resting below. The words represented my relationship with the dearly departed, a relationship that would last for a few moments and would read “In loving memory of John Hall, Died 2nd Feb 1950, Aged 75 years.”

Who were the many people lying amongst John Hall? Was John a good man? Who was he to his loved ones? A loving husband? A son? The favourite uncle?

The sum of the life that sat before me gave me no clues. The brown, dry flowers which lay above John’s final resting place whisper of a man once loved and still missed.

Why do we, as humans, place so much emphasis on the name that we leave behind, the memory that exists in our wake, and the few memorable deeds which spark the curiosity of strangers?

It is only now that this notion seems so absurd. Does John care that I visited his grave? Does he want to share his story with me? And, if so, what would he share?

Somehow, all of my life I had missed something so important. It seems so clear to me now. We do not live and die for strangers to share fleeting moments with our name. We are here to love many through our fleeting lives so that our relationships survive beyond our mortal lives.

The dead to not care for names nor should the living.

“Sleep? Pfft who needs it?”

If I were a cartoon character, the above would be my catchphrase. That and “I’ll buy and extra soft coffin for when I die.”

Sleep has always been a constant no matter what happens it will always be there and is usually quite patient. For a former (or so I to think) master procrastinators, like myself, an extra 5 minutes could have just as easily become 5 hours. But inevitably once the Sandman finally reaches up an claims me as its victim it usually is quite reluctant to let me escape the next morning.

It’s so easy to steal slumber time and it actually feels like we are gaining more time when in actual fact it is quite the opposite. Any theft of sleep will need to be paid at some point in some way: whether you are working at half speed or totally loose few days to weeks to recover. Are the few extra hours a day really worth the war zone that also entrenches within?

I have completely burnt myself out at times and sunk into a depressive funk which seems to linger forever and seems impossible to get rid of. This is certainly not conducive to creativity or productivity and is a leach to any motivation. Quite horrible!

The solution? I am finding that ensuring a good 7-8 hours of sleep coupled with an understanding of how I would rather use my time has certainly proven to be quite effective. The feeling of empowerment is great and I am accomplishing way more than ever, all without the struggle against myself. I would now much rather spend time reaching one of my goals than feeding Facebook or reshaping my eyes in front of the TV.

It takes a bit of a change and won’t come overnight but the benefits don’t take long to show themselves.

I have had to:

Be time conscious and selfish: I was wasting around 6 or more hours a day and wouldn’t even be able to tell you where the time had gone. After realising how much time was being whittled away all it took was a bit of repetition to remind myself of how valuable my waking hours are and how I would rather spend it.

Know myself: The fight to get up in the morning is really just a result of not getting enough sleep so for me this is where I focused my energy. So, I made sleep my main goal, I decided that with adequate sleep I would be at my best to model the rest of myself. After a few weeks of getting over 8 hours sleep and repaying my sleep debt I now wake up without an alarm 7-8 hours after getting to sleep, feel better than ever each day and have more energy.

Schedule:  I spend my life on computers, so naturally I have schedules on my phone or computer, but they are so easy to ignore 🙂 I have become so much more organised since carrying a diary around and using it to plan each day.

Gradual changes: Constantly reminding myself about the interesting yet purely anecdotal metaphor story of the boiling frog?. Making sudden and drastic changes for me never works and for every habit I break or make I will generally need to start small and work myself up to my goal.

It has always been counter initiative for me that going to bed early will actually lead to a more productive and time rich me… Never happier after changing this mentality.

All the time in the world, pt 2: The plunge

 

I wrote my previous post a few of weeks ago but felt uneasy posting it without answering some of the questions. So I set out on a journey to give myself all the time in the world to see how I would answer these questions.

So, I left my day job, rental home and established life to move in with my family over the holiday period. Having all of my obligations covered and a bit of savings would help keep me from working for a few months. It wasn’t an easy decision to go back home. I had left as soon as I had finished high school and was fond of being my own person with my own life but I any change that I could and have been making is tedious and impeded by the overwhelming need and cost to survive. Also, the questions from my previous post had been nagging at me for quite some time so I made the plunge.

Just like any drastic change I seemed to reject the change immediately. I couldn’t relax and had to stop myself from securing a job. Even though I knew that I had more than enough to get by, the lack of security was and still is hard to get over. I, like most, had been conditioned to get a job and work your way up the ladder. At the same time there are other voices, both internal and external, that tell you to make something of yourself and the time that you have on the earth. But those voices seem to grow dim over time as they become overshadowed by the need to survive in society. Surviving in society is becoming society. So what does it mean to be me?

I decided not to make a plan of action, rules or focus when arriving just to see how I would go. And just as anticipated, after a week without having any real obligations or drive I used my time relentlessly. But I also noticed that I started doing the things that had always been on goals: I picked up a new sport, wrote a lot and spent a lot of time with my family. For the first time in a while I felt easy and at peace: it became easier to get up in the morning, to focus on fitness (which was never easy in the past) and to evaluate where and who I wanted to be. I have little to no urge to watch TV or play video games (where I squandered most of my free time before). I also now have the opportunity to pick up work and opportunities that I love which never had a place in my previously busy life.

It’s funny, before I would have viewed the above usage of my time as a waste as I have not been consciously working towards any of my major goals but now I think it is anything but. It seems as though am building a peaceful and happy foundation which I expect will be conducive to a more productive me. Lets hope this can be maintained.

I think it is about time that to kick things into gear and ad some direction to this journey.

“Let that which does not matter truly slide.”

I know, I know! Another Chuck Palahniuk quote, but it is so fitting for this post. This is my favourite documentary. Saw it a few years ago and it has certainly helped me lead a much more stress free life and in turn hopefully give me a few more years. If you every have wondered the effects that stress has on ones life span, health and position in the hierarchy look no further.

Stress, Portrait of a Killer – Full Documentary (2008)

Please note that I did not upload this vid 🙂