My Chilean mentor/friend told me the other day she thinks I’m wasting my life. She also said if I continue wasting my life I’m going to hell, which is funny because I don’t think she believes in hell.
She then told me to write down the kind of person I want to be, and I tried to do it, but it was hard. I realized by the end writing I wasn’t sure if I was writing the kind of person I actually want to be or the kind of person I think she wants me to be. Basically when I imagine the kind of person I want to be Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations come to mind, but I don’t even really remember what he says in Meditations, other than things like, “Remember, always, that in 10 years time, or 50 years time, all of this will be smoke.” And things like, “You can’t demand of others what you don’t demand of yourself,” though it might’ve been my Peruvian teacher who told me that.
But the main thing I took from her latest letter in which she told me I was wasting my life was, A) it might be true, and B) I can fight to stop this from happening. For awhile now my philosophy has been, “Just let things flow, don’t try to force anything, whatever will be will be.” This stems from the belief that there are two camps when it comes to self-improvement. 1) You’re a piece of shit who needs improving, and 2) You’re fine just the way you are, and personal development is just a dumb American phenomenon that makes you feel like a piece of shit and prevents you from accepting yourself.
I’ve oscillated back and forth between the two camps, much like a messenger boy. Well, no, that’s not really true, because even when I’ve tried to be in the “just accept yourself” camp I’ve actually still been in the other camp, them make yourself better camp, but just loathing myself even more because I’m not ACTUALLY doing anything to make myself better. If you can truly accept yourself that’s great, but those of us who can seem to be few and far between.
The hardest thing for me to deal with has been an inexorable decline to where my life is today. The thing is, if something happens fast and it’s impactful then you notice it. But what if things detoriate, slowly, imperceptibly almost, over the course of 10 years? Then one day you wake up on a boat that smells like urine with no job, no girlfriend, and no plan. I’m not talking about no plan as to what you’re going to do with your life, but no plan for what you’re even going to do THAT DAY. Kind of like today. Though actually I do have a job. I just don’t have a girlfriend, or a plan. The point I’m trying to make is that when things get worse slowly it’s easy to not notice them, and sort of accept them, until five or ten years down the road you find yourself with a life you’re really not happy with. And people tell you from the outside your life looks great. You’re living the dream. But you’re not. And other people tell you that, too. Like your Chilean mentor who tells you you’re wasting your life.
So I’ve decided to fight. To fight for living. I’m not sure exactly what that entails yet. So far it’s entailed setting an alarm in the morning instead of just sleeping in till whenever. It’s also involved eating well over the past five days, though I made that decision before I decided to “fight.” Anyway, what I’m going to do now is get off my boat, walk into town, get tea or mate, and think about how I can fight today and over the next few days. And I’m also going to leave you with this video, because it’s sort of on topic, and definitely inspiring: