Monday morning, on the train, on my way to work. Next week I don’t need to do this anymore. It feels surreal. I don’t really know what to think. I didn’t really sleep at all last night. Just lay awake worrying about what im meant to get done this week knowing just how near impossible it’s getting to continue sitting and pushing buttons.
Yesterday I grabbed all of my work shirts except what I need for this week and cut all of the stitching away so that I now have a whole heap of raw material. Its up to my little sister now to convert it into a pencil case. A nice memento of time behind a desk.
This time next week im heading up to Falls Creek to start my next (more exciting) adventure.
Now a fully grown adult. But still scared of the world.
Life is changing. Life must change. People want to protect me, to keep me from making mistakes. People try to guide and mentor, though it’s more and more obvious that everyone is just winging it. No one really knows what it is we are meant to do or where we are meant to be, though many people seem to think they do. When I get to where I want to be, then I will know. But not before.
I’m diving off the deep end. I have been comfortable for years. Though comfort and happiness are not the same. Everything about the rest of my life is completely unknown. The full time professional world quickly blurs our true passions and it is an arduous task to regain clear focus. Without passion life become mundane. We find routine and perpetuate our actions for the sake of comfort and/or a limited certainty. We do all we can to avoid risk and uncertainty.
For years I have been sitting behind desks. My education suggests that by now I should be feeling some sense of achievement. Though whilst I don’t regret my path so far, I certainly feel very little sense of achievement. I am a robot taking commands and following orders in a system that is built solely around profitability and mitigating risk. Growth and advancement in myself during my time at work is stagnant. I am nothing more than another resource. I AM better than this. I have more than this. My personal bar is way higher then this. This industry and these procedures are an insult to my intelligence. The only thing that remaining a professional in my current position guarantees is that I will never even glimpse the lower bounds of my potential.
I’m freaking out. What’s going to happen? Everything at work (for my remaining one and a half weeks) is URGENT. But it always is. I just don’t think I can take this shit any more. This title of engineer holds no value in my eyes. There is no engineering being done here. Computer says no.
That’s enough of a rant.
I need another good mistake. Only through mistakes do I seem to learn anything valuable.
My mind is in a strange place at the moment. At work (only 4 weeks left) i’m as depressed as I have ever been, though outside of work i’m getting close to being the happiest I have ever been. Every day I undergo a complete mental reversal at about 5:30. There is excitement brewing in me about what might be to come. There is also an anxiety eating at me about just how bad work might get during the next 4 weeks. The anxiety is very hard to overcome, whilst also being unnecessary. I recognise that my anxiety stems from a fear of what is in my short term future, whilst that in 4 and a half weeks I will be on Falls Creek without a care in the world. So why do I still feel anxious? why do I still have the urge to destroy all the things?
It seems reasonable that whilst in the midst of a hard time or a stressful situation one might become stressed or overwhelmed. Though to be stressed in anticipation of an upcoming event that may or may not be hard to deal with seems entirely unreasonable, and to only make the present, otherwise potentially pleasant moment, worse. So why feel anxious? Why whilst understanding that right now, whilst i’m not being persecuted or accused of some bullshit bureaucratic error, do I still feel so anxious about events which may not even occur. Further more, the events which may or may not occur depend entirely on my ability to output a sufficient amount of work. Though my anxiety about what may happen if I don’t get my work done is preventing me from completing my work. It’s all a vicious cycle of horrendous productivity. Perhaps a clear sign that I am not where I want to be.
I think subconsciously my anxiety is also a result of feeling that I am letting down my employer. I have a responsibility as an employee, that of late, I have not upheld. My first years as an engineer I produced, though at the time I was unsure how well I was doing, it is clear now that I was well over performing. It is a lie to say that I have enjoyed my time as an engineer though. I have resented (with perhaps the exception of the first 6 months) almost every moment I have spent behind a desk. It took some big mistakes and personal errors to realise that I was choosing to stay behind a desk, and that the feeling of entrapment was a result of being financially comfortable. Though now I am anxious, biting finger nails, feeling shit and wanting out. In 1 month, it will not matter what happens over the next 4 weeks. I will be out.
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.
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.
7 years of primary school, 6 years of high school, 4 years of University and 3 years professional experience as an engineer, and in 57 days I throw it all away. 57 days from now (38 days of actual work) I have my last day working as an engineer. Only now, after all of my schooling and workplace experience do I truly feel that I am prepared for life.
It’s a lie to say I am not anxious or scared. Uncertainty looms over me. However the closer I get to my final day, the more optimistic I become. My attitude and anxiety fluctuate wildly day to day, but the overall trend is in the right direction. Currently I am reducing my debt so rapidly that it is looking like I will actually have a bit of cash behind me when I leave. I’m smiling more frequently now. I have always been optimistic. Though now I am optimistic with a much grander view of potential.
I do not believe life has any purpose. I don’t believe that we are meant to do something with our time and I don’t believe there is any higher power. Besides maybe one that has evolved independently from us and left us in some form of colossal petri dish as an evolutionary experiment. I do believe that we all have the ability to experience joy, that we all can (and do) experience suffering and loss and that we only have a finite amount of time on this earth live. So why do so many of us not ever really live.
There was a quote (likely fake) going around facebook for a while supposedly having come from the Dalai Lama which regardless of its validity really hits home to me. It is said that, when asked what surprised him the most about humanity he replied as follows;
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money in order to recuperate his health. He is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he doesn’t live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama
My life to this point I do not regret a day of. Because my experience, my successes and my (more numerous) failures have made me who I am now. I no longer fear life. I no longer live in anxiety with a fear of the future. I no longer advance myself and my skills for the benefit of an employer. I now live for me. I now live to experience. To travel. To smile, be happy and enjoy the company of the people I meet.
This weekend is potentially a pivot point for me. I have an interview with a company called Merlin Entertainment. The specific role I am applying for is to be a lift attendant at Falls Creek (Snow in Australian) for a whole season. But the potential within this organization are incredibly far reaching and exciting. Wish me luck. Though I don’t think I need it 😉
In ideal circumstances, it is now 2 months from the day I go to Falls Creek (the snow). There is a good chance this will not happen, but in any case whatever my next step is, it will likely either be somewhere distant or on the way to somewhere distant. So I must be prepared. For those of you that are reading my posts, you will know that being prepared involves getting rid of all of my stuff. Besides perhaps a small selection of things that I will leave with loved ones.
For the remainder of today and all of tomorrow I will be photographing and listing every single book, CD and DVD I own, love and have left, for sale. Those that don’t sell I will be giving away for free. Be it to anyone that wants them or a charity store. Most likely the remaining books will go to the Melbourne Central book exchange shelf.
I wish to see more of this world, how that happens I don’t yet know and I will likely always remain uncertain about what comes next. The biggest step will be to get to the next place. The first place. And to start learning how to live with less.
The life I have been leading has now left me empty, depressed and wanting for more. But more it seems, is less. More is to enjoy the moment, to find myself in good company and in laughter. To leave behind the office and the seemingly endless professional repetition. I no longer have any desire to strive for a promotion, or a pay rise. These things are now meaningless to me. As of this June, I will no longer work jobs I do not enjoy. I will make sure that I am either somewhere I want to be, or working towards somewhere I want to be. I am the only person in control of my future. I want no handouts. I will make myself.
So for now. It is time to start taking photographs, weighing books and listing things for sale. Once I have started getting a decent amount of things listed I will place some links here.