Inevitably, It All Ends.


Life is fragile. Really, really fragile. What I mean by this is you might die soon. You could die tomorrow, or today. Trust me, I almost died once. It's an annoying thought to have. It's especially annoying when you're trying to be an ambitious person with commitments that will consume years of your life.

This wasn't a new thought to me. It didn't take an aggressive and deadly form of meningitis to realize it. I was just a smart, classically handsome, 180lb young man with hopes of my own sitting in bed when this really set in. I was training full-time as a sprint canoeist and pursuing a BSc in psychology at Dalhousie. I had dreams of going to the Olympics, finishing my undergrad and going to grad school somewhere along the way. These things would take years of my time, and hard work nearly every day. I found it irritating that I could spend all of my energy doing hard work, and all of a sudden, I could just die without doing the things I aimed to do. It just didn't sit right.

You might be saying "well come on now Ian, the work in and of itself should be enjoyable and fulfilling, right?" This is true, but dying suddenly still seems crueler than the work can be enjoyable. But, death happens.

Let me make it clear that I'm not refuting the importance of routine.  Routine is crucial. I spent too much of this year not being able to do what I really wanted to deny that having daily tasks and a schedule is fulfilling. But routine can often ignore some of life's most enjoyable things.

How does one justify that anyone could die before they achieve self-actualization? Everyday life can be just that when you are working towards certain goals. I had trouble separating days, everything was work and all too similar. It was one place to the next. I wanted to be able to appreciate each day as a new experience and a new lesson learned, but that's not always simple. After I (temporarily) avoided death, I came to the conclusion that there are a few things that can help.

The first weekend I got out of rehab, I went to Montreal to see John Mayer. I was still depending on a cane, and my family was petrified that I was going, but I just had to do something for myself. I had to take a break from the everyday struggle that was trying to bring myself back to normal. I took my money and put it towards having John Mayer blow my god damn mind. It was so worth it. So, don't just save all of your money without treating yourself to something that will become an awesome experience and a great memory. Maybe that means being a little materialistic sometimes, so what, sue me. Of course, I'll guiltily admit that not everyone has the luxury to do things like that. Sorry.

Saving money is important, and quite satisfying, but nobody wants their tombstone to say "Was Very Good at Saving Money." I'd much rather mine read "Went to See John Mayer Once."

It's important to acknowledge that you can die, and then confront it by having fun. Don't hold yourself back from laughing, do things out of spontaneity and let yourself be free instead of playing things safe all the time. It's okay to rest, but leave the house sometimes. Making others laugh and helping those around you cherish life is profoundly enjoyable.

If we ignore the fact that life ends, we can completely let these opportunities pass us by. You don't know when you might lose the ability to do something. I miss playing guitar, I miss running, I miss paddling. Looking back, I would have spent a little more time focusing on and enjoying all of those things instead of the bigger picture of life. My nerve damage, as well as my low energy (and whatever else could be wrong with me) just don't let me do those things anymore.

Anyone who knows me remembers how much I disliked running. You might be surprised what you miss when it's taken away from you.

We shouldn't just ignore the inconveniences of our existence, we should use them to help us prioritize. If everything in life felt like it sat right, like things never needed explaining, would we have any reason to do or learn anything fulfilling and enjoyable?

The funny part of all of this that happened to me is that now I don't get scared of the fact that I could just die anytime. I'm starting to have fun because of it.

 

Until next time, unless either of us die,

Ian

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