I am writing this post on the eve of my 7568th birthday (let’s not dispute my age eh). For the past few weeks I have become increasingly pensive, as I usually am in the time leading up to an anniversary of the genesis of my most recent human existence. This time however, I am not entirely frantic and questioning the nature of all things related to this particular life in my series of human journeys. I am not freaking out wondering what my next move is and if it will ever work out. Neither am I berating myself for not having progressed farther along the trajectory I had imagined my life would take. Instead, I am relatively content and looking with bright hope towards the future.
To be fair, my quarter-life crisis commenced a few years shy of the 25 year mark and it’s duration was longer than expected. Quite a few things happened to me in those few years that were undeniably life-changing and have shaped the person I am today more than any other period in my life.
I had grown accustomed to difficulties in life as my childhood was laced with various challenges so there was quite a backlog, but had I to pick a tipping point, it would have been my final semester of university. I was pursuing a first degree in Computer Science and in an effort to avoid spending another one, I crammed 6 courses plus my final year project into one semester.
Stressed was not the word. I barely slept, ate all the crap and my social life dwindled into non-existence. Almost every waking moment was spent completing required coursework or assessments and I could not wait for the semester to come to an end. I was anxious about my future, pondering my next move and attempting to make plans that would successfully circumvent failure of any kind.
I began to question the person I was, if I was content with, and could live with him for the rest of my life. I chided myself endlessly on my lack of progression in life because that job, post-graduate degrees and loft were still non-existent. I spent so much time berating myself for what I did not achieve that I lost sight of how far I had already come. Anyway, I successfully managed to pull off the super-heroic workload and settled down to focus on preparing for examinations. It was during this period that I got thrown for a loop as my father suddenly passed away.
He and I had had quite a tumultuous relationship that was just beginning to mellow and find it’s flow, but irregardless of our differences, his passing affected me more profoundly than I could have ever imagined. For you see, my father was the only biological parent I knew. We occasionally lived together, but it was with him that I grew up. He was the one constant in my life and I always thought no matter what happened that he would have been there, for it was he and I against the world. But it was not to be so.
However, while this traumatic event marked the end of a man’s life and the end of my own as I knew it, it also marked the start of something marvellous. That’s the thing about ends, they always give rise to new beginnings and this one marked the beginning of a new me. I learned quite a few things about myself and life in general while I grieved for my father and began to collect and reassemble what could have been salvaged from my now shattered world. I’ve listed my musings below in no particular order.
I Like Whisky
I’ve found that it makes for the perfect nightcap. A drink or two and I’m off to la-la land for a spectacular bout of rest and recuperation.
Be Happy, for no Reason at all
Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble, because that reason can be taken from you. – Deepak Chopra
The key to our happiness lies within US. Sure external elements can bring fleeting moments of happiness, but true joy is something that comes only from deep within. It may not be readily apparent, but we choose our thoughts and feelings. We opt to respond to life and it’s situations a particular way. And in the same way we can choose to feel bad, we can choose to feel good and happy. Happiness is a gift that only we can truly give ourselves and we can treat ourselves to it every single day for the rest of our lives – talk about an infinite supply.
There’s Only One Foolproof Formula for Success
I’ve always been a dreamer; which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing at all, but one runs into problems when things don’t always go according to plan in the real world and your dreams seem to be more unachievable than previously imagined. To be fair, I should have set more realistic goals for myself, but when you’re young and ambitious, you think not of limits or contingency plans. The naiveté of youth is that you always believe things will follow the path you have charted for them, but this is seldom so. Therefore while I have not discarded my tendency to plan, I have become more pragmatic.
I won’t always run my best time, hell, I won’t always run at all, but I’ll always keep running – even if it’s after two weeks of inactivity. I won’t ace every test, nor arrive at the optimal solution for a problem the first time around, but I will always be presented with opportunities to learn and is these moments that I should treasure. I have learned to plan and hope for the best, prepare for the worst and remain cognizant of the fact that the only way to truly fail, is if I stop trying.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I’ve arrived at a rule: if I don’t think I will be able to remember it next year, or next week even, I forget about it. It’s pointless using energy in such a futile manner when it could be directed towards other things, say, being happy.
I Appeal to a Niche Market
My sense of humour is not quite commonplace. Finding me humourous is like learning to appreciate whisky: one has got to acquire for it a taste. A lover of all things sci-fi, I am a wonderful concoction of relatively moderate intellect, sporadic charm and a magnitude of empathy. The avid reader who immensely enjoys shooting aliens and has a love-hate relationship with KFC hot n spicy chicken because despite all his attempts, that last little stomach pudge just won’t disappear into oblivion.
I’ve come to accept that it’s the differences between us that make life tolerable. Could you imagine what our existence would be like if we were all the same!? Appreciate your uniqueness; embrace it. There will be those who shall forever love you for YOU; plus, authenticity is largely appreciated. There’s one thing you’re guaranteed to be the best at in life and that’s being YOU.
My Journey is Unique
As part of chastising myself for not being one of Jamaica’s youngest millionaires, I oft used to compare my life to that of others. My schoolmates were further along in life than I was, many of them making their way up the corporate ladder while I was struggling to hold myself together and not have an anxiety attack in the middle of my final exams. While I was struggling to pay my tuition and buy food, they were busy earning substantial salaries and because of this differences in realities, I felt like I was not good enough.
But the truth is, everyone’s path is different. We will all face different struggles and be dealt a varying hand of circumstances. Not because I’m not where I want to be today, means that I’ll never get there in the future. It takes time, a magnitude of patience, focus, perseverance and hard work. Remember, what a fi yuh, caan un-fi-yuh
It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. – Confucius
Exercise is Golden
On a particularly frustrating or lethargic day, a healthy does of exercise tends to be immensely rewarding. It relieves stress, lowers my blood pressure and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment; especially after a particular challenging workout. Also, endorphin highs are priceless.
My Mother is Amazing
Not my biological one, but the woman who raised me when she was under no obligation to do so. She taught me how to be self-reliant, domestic and also that I am truly not a morning person. Jokes aside, my mother has been a source of strength and encouragement and a bastion of hard work. She instilled a work ethic in me that developed into my tendency to aim for perfection in all my endeavours, which is entirely tedious.
She also nurtured my humanity by example; displaying the utmost concern for those in need, offering aid where she could and smothering me with love and affection. She taught me the value of having principles and abiding by them even when no one else is. She truly is a remarkable woman and I am, largely in part, the man I am today because of her.
Vulnerability can be uncomfortable, but without it, our relationships are hollow. If one truly wants to connect with another human being on a deeper level, one must be vulnerable with them. At this age, we know the only relationships worth holding on to are those which are meaningful. Cultivate them, it will be one of the best things you ever do.
Every day, in every moment (well almost, we are human after all), we should strive to give nothing but love to our fellow man. Love is the greatest force in the Universe and the more you give, the more you receive. Feelings of love and gratitude carry with them such an abundance of positivity and enables you to attract more of it in your life. Give your love; it is the most precious gift you can give.
That’s about as much as I can remember at this moment as Johnnie and I have been having our own conversation while I have been typing this post. But before I go, here’s to birthdays, lessons learned, success and failure and of course, fine whisky.