30 days now until I finish my engineering career. Less than a month. Wow. It has been an incredibly difficult year, but the next episode is only just around the corner.
My work ethic is pathetic (perhaps my fate is in poetry) at the moment. It’s not something I’m proud of. I feel terrible about my present performance. I need to be doing so much more so that I don’t leave problems behind me for someone else to deal with.
Looking at what needs to be done, it seems perfectly fair and reasonable. Without doubt it could all be achieved ahead of time. But I am not a robot. I am Matt. A big kid. When all passion is lost, all enthusiasm has been drained by a desk, the drive to achieve has been eliminated by the realization that hard work and crap work as an employee result in almost identical personal outcomes. The ability to sit and work crashes and burns.
It’s in times like these that I must hold on to the future. My time will come. It is only just around the corner. It is in one month now that rather than hold on to the future I will be holding myself in the present. The first sight of snow for the season. My first ride up a chair lift. The first run down a slope. Sunrise from a mountain top. ‘Hopefully’ a lady under my arm. Life on Falls Creek. My endless ‘now’ will be my moment to hold on to.
One more month. I need to subdue my overwhelming urge to scream, yell, smash and destroy shit for only one more month. My strength is in understanding that no matter the events of the next 30 days, soon I will be on the snow. The stresses of this life will come to pass. Soon.
Here I sit, contemplating once again the larger purpose of my life. My desk is relatively clean, a few ‘important’ yet so distant pieces of paper scattered on its surface. The usual promise toying on my mind that everything I am currently working on must be completed by yesterday. There was a point in my professional life where the terms ‘important’, ‘quickly’, ‘urgently’ etcetera lost all meaning. When everything is always critical, and so much control is lost to unnecessary and underqualified authority, the will to excel diminishes.
As each day behind my desk has passed I have quietly, and sometimes very vocally and violently, observed my surroundings. I have tried to understand the overall goal of the profession I am working within and tried to understand the methods by which we aim to achieve our goals. We provide a service to a client, though the aim of our business has so obviously become making money as opposed to providing a brilliant service. Yes, every business needs to make money to maintain its service, though when so much of the focus diverges from the product and shifts to the amount that is being invoiced does not the quality of the product lose its value.
The core of any business is in the people that produce its product. It is critical to keep excellent people. It is critical to be able to motivate people and inspire them to output great work and it is critical to reward them appropriately. So how does an employer motivate employees? It seems that the all too common answer is to pay them a lot, though this hasn’t worked in my workplace, and my experience suggests that no matter how much someone is paid they only ever want to be paid more. It seems that income has little to no impact on attitude towards work.
I no longer have any pride in the work I output for my employer. I no longer have a sense of urgency no matter how much pressure is placed on me. I have become relatively calm as I have realized that at the end of the day, my effort and the quality of my work in no way distinguishes me from my peers. An employer needs to motivate employees by thinking outside of the box. Life is too short to continue working, providing a service, in a field I have no passion for because of a large pay cheque. We need to be proud of what we do day to day. We need to go home with a sense of achievement. Not a warning as to how much more we need to make, or invoice, for our employer.
I have been contemplating a lot lately the concept of living each day like it is my last. I look around me and see people living in fear of the future, only not realizing that in fear they are neglecting to live in the present. So how do I make sure that I live every day like it is my last? What does this really mean?
Tomorrow I must go to my desk. I am hardly convinced that by doing so I am living each day like it is my last, however I find myself part of this absurd world which has allowed me to put myself in a position where (temporarily at least) I must continue to do so. Perhaps in this world it is not possible to live each day as if it were our last. If we have a dream, a goal for our life, we must work towards that goal in order to achieve success. In this process we are inevitably forced to not live as if we will die tomorrow. There will be days, weeks, months and even years full of tiring hard work. Right? Hard work that will not result in immediate gratification. Hard work that may not ever pay off at all. Could it be that it is the journey, and not the destination, that really counts?
Being true to myself. Pursuing my own dreams and pleasures. Facing my fears. Taking risks. Perhaps to live each day as if it were my last simply means to live each day doing those things that I am passionate about. But therein lays another problem. What if the thing that I am passionate about do not get me paid (yet)? Then I am forced, by the pressures of this absurd world, to earn an income by another means.
It is here, in earning an income, that I believe many people make a profound mistake, myself up to now included. The mistake being learning in order to get paid, chasing a high wage and a promotion by becoming progressively better and more efficient at some specific thing. But this is not living. I no longer fear the future. Not because I know what it is going to bring, I don’t have a clue. But rather because I know that I have the ability to achieve my wildest dreams and I have so much time.
From May 23 forward, I work to learn, not for money (though it is required in small amounts to survive), then I will apply my knowledge in my own life and in my own business. Not only will I work to learn, I will work only in fields that I have a genuine and real interest in. Life is meant to be lived! Why not be who we want to be? Why not really live it? Is it ignorance that causes so many of us live in fear? I only have 23 more days of work behind a desk left. From then on my adventure really begins. Every day, I will ask myself these deep existential questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Am I living each day as if it were my last? I don’t expect to ever find an answer to any of these questions, but I will live as if the answer is just around the next corner.
It is much harder to get up and run after something more. It takes drive, motivation, passion and a will to win. It takes the guts to face uncertainty and to drive the outcome that you want to achieve. No one can claim to be perfect, no one is, has been, or ever will be. No one has ever known what their future held. Anyone that has had a dream has had to work in order to achieve it. But sometimes we need a little bit of motivation along the way.
Motivation can be hard. Uncertainty has often clouded my thoughts and slowed my progress, though I keep chugging forward. I have taken my big steps backwards. The biggest backwards steps have been in decisions made without education and in desperation, with the hope of immediate gratification. Fact is that immediate gratification does exist, but it is rare and takes an educated and experienced mind to identify its possibility. My mind was neither educated or experienced in the matters at hand at the time. Now it is, and my losses have been recovered. I am now the closest to my dreams I have ever been, though they are still so far away. I still don’t know how I am going to get there and I have no idea how long it is going to take.
I ask myself frequently “what is your dream?”. Every day I seem to have a different answer, though they all revolve around two concepts. Freedom and Happiness. My dream (though it may change slightly tomorrow) is “to get myself into a position where I am happy and free. Free to decide what I want to do tomorrow, and where I want to go, without worrying about how I am going to afford it or how it will turn out, and to eliminate the fear of thefuture“. Pretty simple dream really. I have not a moments doubt that I will achieve this dream, I just don’t know how or when. The last year has been a roller coaster, the two biggest mistakes have occurred and I have now dug myself back out of their holes. But I need a little motivation.
Lately I have been turning to youtube for motivation. There are a lot of good videos, full of inspirational quotes and imagery (like this one) that just remind me that I am good enough and I do have the power to achieve anything I want to achieve. So I figured that I could share a couple of quotes here that have resonated with me recently and kept me moving forward. They may be cliche, but they have been effective.
“The Man who says he can, and the man who says he can not.. Are both correct” – Confucius
I have heard people say that they can’t do that thing countless times. I used to think that I couldn’t draw, until I started drawing. I used to think that I couldn’t maintain a blog, until I just did it. I used to think that I couldn’t quit smoking, until I told myself I could. Now I am telling myself that I can be happy, I can live an amazing life and not regret a day. And so it will be.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” – Rocky Balboa
I wrote this in the back of one of my recent workbooks. I would read it every time I opened the book and right before every time I closed it. It reminded me that even though I was in a huge amount of debt and struggling with other serious personal issues, if I did not continue to educate myself and continue to think up new ideas, I would never get ahead. Now i’m back at the starting line, it’s time to get ahead.
24 more days behind a desk and my life is going to drastically change for the better. Though a big part of this change includes a pay cut of more than 50%. I have made my mistakes now, and even though I have been professionally employed on a very good wage for over three years, I am left only slightly ahead of the starting line. So I must now do things differently. I will be a wealthy man. I will not be working at 65. I will hopefully not be working (by necessity at least) at 35. So the question for me now is “how am I going to do this?”. If I rely on saving, then when I can afford a house I like, buying a house and starting to pay down the mortgage, not only will I get myself tied down and unable to live a life of adventure and travel, but I will also never get truly ahead and certainly will not escape this rat race by 35.
Luckily I already have a lot of ideas, coupled with the will to work hard and the guts to make a decision. I have already made bad decisions. But a bad decision is a lesson learned.
I once heard a comedian commenting on pursuing his dreams. At one point he said that one of the best decisions he made was to leave his well paid corporate job in order to have more time to focus on what it was he really wanted. This rings true with me, and I can only hope my life works out in a similar way. I remember times in my life when I have been working on projects and ideas that I have had a real passion for, and I can so clearly remember the drive and enthusiasm that is still inside me, but has been dormant now for too long.
“If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come” – CS Lewis
I am in the process now of removing the distractions from my life. In the process of putting myself somewhere I can be truly grateful for being. Somewhere I can smile every day, without someone elses stresses pushing me down. Somewhere I can get more in to my own work and my own ideas. It is time to continue my education, both academically and culturally. There is a whole world to experience and learn from. It is up to me and only me. There is no handout. No free ticket. So how?
The full time professional world has sucked up so much time now, time that I have not been able to pursue my own dreams in (though I never stopped working). A big paycheck every fortnight has been very nice, but ultimately it is not worth the time invested in someone elses business, and I only learnt how to live within my pay-scale. I may not see pay from my own ideas for a very long time. But when I do, it will not be capped at what my boss is willing to pay me. The limit to which I will pay myself is dependent only on my ability to create and innovate.
I seem to be laughing hysterically a lot at the moment, though there is certainly nothing funny going on. My mind is wandering, and toying dangerously with violence, constantly, and only barely, resisting the overwhelming desire to smash everything in sight. White walls, printers, computers, piles of paper and the urgent expectation that everything WILL be done TODAY!
Fuck. How many people are living like this? How many people have spent their whole lives in this type of environment? Every day has become a struggle for my sanity as my mind pushes me closer and closer to throwing my hands in the air, saying “fuck this place”, and just walking out. Perhaps it is only a respect for my superior that has held me here for this long.
But then I remember. I only have 26 more days behind a desk untill I undergo a complete change in direction. This is only the beginning. I have so much time left to find out who I really am, to discover where it is I want to be and to do everything in my power to get there. To say I have any idea where that is, is a lie. I only know that my current path is not working. Rather, it is turning me into a man I do not want to be. Full of hate and anger. A complicated shape, being forced into a perfectly circular slot. I do not fit here. This is not my life.
I thought that after getting the job on falls creek (the snow) I would calm down. That it would become easier to deal with what is left of my ‘professional’ desk job. But it Hasn’t. I’m stressing out, constantly. Though this is necessary. Life was not meant to be easy and if I am to get to where I want to be, I must make these decisions, I must endure hard times. How can we possibly know who we are without discovering first who we are not? I keep holding on to the fact that no matter how badly I am struggling at the moment (for reasons far above that which I can share publicly) that in just over a month I will be in a stress free environment, surrounded by people, in my demographic, at the snow, with my board, for an entire season.
Each step from now on will be forwards. No more backpedaling. I feel lucky that I have made so many big mistakes so early in my life, and am starting to come out on top, healthy and optimistic. Now I feel ready. Nothing can stop me now. Now I am ready to really live. If I can just resist the impulses in my head for a little while longer. Im so close to the starting line.
My life is about to change. I no longer have space for unnecessary material possessions. I don’t know what comes next, only that possessions tie me down. Right now, the one person that knows me better than anyone else in the world is going through what is left of my things.
Everything I own triggers a memory, like a song reminds us of a childhood habit or a smell reminds us of a long gone and distant location. The things that last, that don’t end up in the trash, on the kerb or flogged off, tend to be the things that hold the most meaning. Sentimental value. Memories of people, of love, of pain, of times that were. Memories of people no longer with us and stories of people we never even met.
The more my pile of possessions dwindles, the more difficult it is to continue its reduction. I do not want to get rid of what is left. It hurts. But I do not know what to do with all of it. And so she is here. The one person in this world that has seen through my many facades and understands the person that lies beneath, and she is going through what is left. This is what she chooses to take with her.
Each of these simple things hold more than a retail value. Each of them makes a small part of me. A part of me is in each of them. A story, one mostly of happiness in times that should have been miserable. A time when faced with real responsibility. A real reason to show up and be counted where a smile and laughter was found. But everything changes. It’s time to let go. We must all let go of something at some point. At the end all we have are our memories and the people we love.
Some people will loose everything they have, against their will. Be it a fire, a flood, theft or any other means. But I choose to become more than I am now, I choose to change, which means freeing myself from this endless consumerism, this accumulation of material. My memories will not fade with my possessions. Everything I know and love will be stored in 1’s and 0’s. To be reflected upon at will. My story from this day forth will be recorded, in writing and in photos. I must get better at taking photos. I have photos. Time to let go.