Today is my birthday. I didn’t ask for it to be, it just is. Every year, on October 23rd, I have to celebrate the fact that I’m closer to the time of my death than I am the time of my birth.
A little gloomy for my birthday?
I’ve been working hard on forgetting all my regrets and the years wasted. I’ve been trying to think forward, because for most of my life, I’ve been sick, and that caused me to be a person who I didn’t want to be.
Sure, I’m different now, but I feel the clock ticking relentlessly. Can I change the person I am before it’s too late? Can I fix what’s broken? What kind of legacy am I leaving behind for my kids and their kids? Can I somehow make up for the shitshow that’s been my life so I can truly say I had a good life before I die?
Sure, I have a lot of years left. But it took all these years to mess it up, how many more years will it take to fix? Will I ever fix it? Will I ever be the guy I see in my minds-eye when I lay down for sleep at night?
So many questions, so few answers.
I’m not this depressing all the time, am I? If I always thought this way I would never make any progress. This kind of thinking is the Jason I was before (Jason 1.0). The one that stayed in bed 20 hours a day and only woke up to cut himself and smoke cigarettes.
I don’t cut and don’t smoke anymore, and I don’t think like this. But I become very introspective on my birthday because it reminds me that life has a time limit, and I’ve used up all my time-outs.
If I want to make something of my life, something I can be proud of on my death-bed, I have to run the rest of this race at top-speed.
The funny thing is that everything I am doing to better myself is more of a marathon. In Medium, you have to pay the long game, because very few of us experience overnight success. Improving how my mind deals with my mental illness doesn’t happen overnight. Raising happy and healthy kids is an everyday thing. You don’t do a little work upfront and leave them to their devices. You have to put in the work their whole lives.
So my body is sprinting, but my mind is jogging all these mini-marathons. I’m a juggler on a downhill ski-slope, trying to keep my balls in the air while I maneuver the twists and turns of life.
Okay, enough metaphor for now.
The trick to disarming this thinking is to start thinking present-day. The past is gone. There is nothing I can do about the things I’ve done. I can’t get the wasted time back. I can’t take my illness away and do it all over again. I must start thinking about what I can do today and tomorrow to be what I want to be and to have what I need to be fulfilled.
It’s okay to have dark thoughts as long as you don’t stay in the dark. Sooner or later, you have to get out from under that blanket and step out into the bright sunshine of a new day. I stayed in the dark for the first forty-three years of my life, and it was not an amusement park. It was hell to go forward every day. It was torture to get out of bed every day because bed was a place where you didn’t have to do or say anything. You didn’t have to pretend you were happy in bed — you could be as miserable and suicidal as you wanted, and the almighty mattress never complained.
It takes courage to get up and face the day. It takes cajones to face the unknown without slouching. For many years of my life, I wasn’t brave enough to do anything about my life — it stayed a trainwreck for a long time.
Eventually, I fashioned tools from my pain and used them to mend the broken pieces of my backbone. I set my foot on a path that would take me around the world and start a new life for me.
I don’t know where I’ll be in the future, but it won’t be in my past, and it won’t be standing in the same place doing nothing.
I’ve got a life to live.