There have been many times in my life where I feel I haven’t really done a lot with my time. Or, at least, nothing that could be counted as productive. Sometimes I get an itch on my diaphragm when I think about the passage of time, the seconds seem to be there and gone, like a film of someone walking incredibly slowly that has been speed up to 128x normal speed. Experiencing something moving incredibly quickly and slowly at the same time is peculiar. This is my usual experience.
When I was a teenager, particularly when I was at college, I had a pretty full life. I was studying for A Levels, working a shop job 25 hour a week, playing basketball, had a long-term girlfriend, did various volunteering things. Yet somehow I was bored. It didn’t feel like I was really doing anything with my life, not achieving anything. Plus, time felt like it was moving very slowly. I was doing all these things yet found I still had time to piss away playing computer games and watching films. Some would say that that was down time from the hecticity (which spell-check is telling me is not a word but it really is) but I didn’t really need down time as I genuinely loved all the things I was doing. Even the job!
Then came the end of college. At the same time, I lost my job, broke up with my girlfriend, stopped playing basketball and the volunteering placements came to an end too. All the things i had been filling my life with had evaporated. I fell into a bit of a funk. I had just turned eighteen so I was taking all the opportunities I could to go for a legal pint (in the pub I had been going in for four years anyway) and was just generally bumming about with friends. I was doing nothing with my life at all but strangely, that nagging feeling that I was doing nothing wasn’t in my mind. After about a month, I got another job and stayed in it for four years before going to university.
While I worked this job, I wasn’t really doing anything of any significance. Going out with friends, watching and playing stuff. That’s about it. And still that nagging feeling was not there. When I got to university, I joined some societies, became a mature student mentor (as I was one myself), started doing student ambassador tours for prospective students and started playing basketball again, for which I started going to the gym as at that time I was about 25st and needed to get fit.
I was doing a degree in creative writing so I was writing again and doing open mic nights. On top of all that, I was doing the obvious thing everyone does at uni – going out, getting way too drunk and making an arse of myself. My life was full again, I loved it but I’m sure you can guess what was lingering at the back of my mind.
I had the feeling that I wasn’t doing anything with my life again. I think my brain may be wired up wrong. Towards the end of university, I fell into a depression, seemingly out of nowhere. I had very little interest in going anywhere or doing anything. At one stage, I stayed in bed for three days doing nothing but watching Adam Sandler films, which must surely be a signifier for extreme depression. I was still playing basketball and that was really my only tether to reality. I was also suffering from chronic toothache and did not have the funds to get it sorted out. The agony kept me awake for day at a time, which is possibly why my grip on reality was so loose. I stopped doing pretty much anything as I really found no joy in any of it. And that nagging feeling was absent.
Now, at the moment, I am trying to kick-start myself after a little psychological break. I have begun doing things I genuinely love to do but things I also know will challenge me. This Poem A Day challenge for example. I know I am not the world’s best poet and some of it can be intangibly bad but that is precisely why I am doing it. Because I want to be better at it. Surely if I write enough of it, some of it will not be complete shash. Then I am also doing the final module for my Open University studies. Key Questions in Philosophy. I have never formally studied philosophy before and this is a level three module. I am struggling so very badly with the course material. It is a really interesting module – which is why I chose it – but I have found I cannot write a philosophical essay to save my life. But again, I knew it would be hard, which is why I chose to do it in the first place.
Then there is all the magazine we have to do – editing submissions, marketing, social media, going to things etc. And keeping Keri happy. My life is full again with things I genuinely love doing and for once, that nagging sense that I am doing nothing isn’t there. I think I am making progress.
Well, it is there a little bit. I’m not completely healed yet.
I had a bit of a wobble with my productivity today, beating myself up a little for not getting a much done as I wanted to. I got in the shower and flicked through YouTube to find a song I wanted to listen. I decided on ‘One Week’ by The Barenaked Ladies, because it is awesome and I can actually sing along to it al the way through. One comment under the video caught my eye:
carmine sacrimoni 2014-11-22 11:34:5
If you know this entire song by heart, you are good at life.
I am good at life after all! Thank you internet. You always know how to heal.
Here is a poem, inspired by the picture below. If it inspires you to write something, get involved in the comments underneath.
you are born atoms and molecules firing
at the speed of light burning bright as
suns that don’t exist yet whizzing
popping bulging jostling for space
bonding and separating
splitting and splitting
and spewing and spitting
becoming the building blocks
that are you and me
and the stars and trees
and water and cockroaches
and politicians and distant planets
on the edge of knowledge
and the sign above the corner shop
boiling toiling speeding through
space that isn’t to slow
and cool and gradually be
drawn together to form
worlds life ecosystems
and we are all it
and it is all us connected by
that first second accidentally
thrown together billions of years later
a reunion of carbon
all the same underneath it all
the odds are astronomical
life becomes death becomes life
so let’s all get along