Is This All There Is?

I watched a video of a girl’s twitter feed during the last months of her life. After starting her twitter account and tweeting for a while, we find out that she is diagnosed with brain cancer. When she tells the world she has three months to live, she quits her job and then travels until she becomes so sick she must return home.

When she wrote the words, “life is entirely too short,” you know she means it. For her, life went from a great expanse, to a small window of three months. Co-workers told her she “looked fine,” but she knew otherwise.

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It’s strange to see the last months of a person’s life played out with just 150 characters. Its terrifying and sad, and yet at the same time inspiring. I don’t know this girl, but she seemed to spend the last months of her life doing what she wanted.

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It made me wonder why it can sometimes take the shock of our lives to make us finally do what we want.

Her twitter handle was @trappedatmydesk. That’s how I’ve felt lately since starting my very first 8-5 office job. I had never worked in an office before, only in retail and on my college campus. I didn’t expect the mindless intensity that comes with staring at a computer screen all day.

After receiving my Master’s degree, I always thought my life would open up in front of me. I didn’t realize how easy it was to become a habitual zombie.

One morning I remember pulling myself out of bed, begrudgingly of course, to go and get ready for work. In my car I started thinking about all the things I had to get done that day and then it hit me…

IS THIS ALL THAT THERE IS?

Has my life simply snapped into some office troglodyte mold, where I schlep around all day, wishing I was at home, and then at 5 running home to sit my ass in front of the TV so I could zone out from work before zoning out at work? Is this really where I ended up so quickly?

Seriously, what the fuck happened?

I went from graduate school peon to office peon who barely gets time off in one fell swoop. Am I even using this colloquialism right? Is it even a colloquialism? Should I google it?

I googled it and determined it was right since It’s my existential blog post.

So, I realize now that it takes work to live the life you want. It just doesn’t magically happen. (Said the naive 20 something.)

You’re probably thinking, “Duh. You have to do what you want with your life, not sit around and expect things to just happen.”

I always thought when I was finally out of college, 7 years and 2 degrees later, that life would be exciting and I’d have a lot of guilt free, free time. (In graduate school all free time is laced with graduate school guilt AKA I should be doing something productive right now AKA I need to write my thesis.) Now I just realize that its easier to completely check out of life than it is to live it.

We’re all tired and stressed about, well everything. Money, work, school, how fat we think we are when we’re really not, how we’re not good enough. We have so much stress, so many overwhelming emotions and tiny screens bleeping at us 24/7 that its easy to stare at a big box and live in some else’s life for a while.

And then you get diagnosed with brain cancer and realized you need to do what you want.

I don’t exactly know if I have a point to this post, other than to say maybe we should all do what we want. Maybe we should stop zoning out and start connecting with the things that make us happy. Maybe we should look at the stars more, watch the sunset, and remember that our job is not our life. We are not all trapped at our desks even though it feels that way. Life does not have to be a suffocating mind numbing experience, it can be whatever we make it.

So, why not make it something worth living?

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2 thoughts on “Is This All There Is?

  1. 20-somethings don’t really want advice from 60-evens, but here goes.

    The harsh reality is that one needs money. Not necessarily for “toys” (they don’t help with happiness or fulfilment), but for food, shelter, insurance, etc.

    . . . it would be a lot easier if one did know exactly when one is going to check out. I suppose one could plan it, but that’s would be nuts . . . and one would likely chicken out (unless, you know, they be nuts).

    The key, then, is to get a job you can stand, and do other stuff to nourish the self that only you know.

    Some will say “get a job you love” . . . well, yeah, if you can. But here’s the other thing; at 20-something, you are not going to love the same things you will love at 30-something, 40-something, etc.

    Some get lucky, some have connections, but for most, they should get a job that pays the bills, and start living in “the-between”. Doing stuff, trying things, exploring, learning, might just open a door or two you did not know were even there. BUT . . . don’t be disappointed if that’s not the case; the key is doing stuff that interests you, and if your job helps pay for that, that’s fine. If those things lead to something else, even better.

    If the office job is too much, welders make a crapload of money. Apprentice with someone. Same for plumbers, etc.

    But, office jobs are OK if one does not get sucked into politics, careers, etc (unless that’s what one wants).

    For perspective, I’ve had an office job from January 1978 to August 2013. Never liked a one, even when I owned my own company.

    Writing, reading, travel, wife, racquetball, music, golf, photography, eating, movies, TV shows, watching meteor showers, and learning (always learning) made the jobs bearable. And I did not know until I was in my 50’s what I would have really wanted to be, which I am doing now . . . that’s right; eating!

    No, I kid; writing. I had one teacher in college who told me to switch from engineering to English, and I thought he was nuts (I was a junior at the time). It turns out he was right, but that does not mean I regret my journey (for one, changing anything might not have had me meet my wife of 38 years).

    Finally, being 60 makes you aware of something . . . it can end very quickly. Mortality looms not as immediate as knowing three months, but “any moment” is no picnic either.

    The thing is, it’s “any moment” regardless of one’s current age . . . I realized that in my late teens, and never forgot it. Did not let it affect me, but never forgot it.

    Good luck.

    • I’m trying to live in “the-between” right now. Its hard because I don’t get a lot of time off, which caused me to have to cancel my plans for traveling. Its a minor pump in the road, but an eye opener too. It made me realize how easily a job can take over your life and mood if you let it. Thanks for the advice!

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