Halfway dead

Image: blog_halfway_dead

In a very morose frame of mind, I looked up my life expectancy online. There are a bunch of different calculators, but they all generally agreed I'll live to about 86, which means I have about 41 years to go, which means I've crossed over the halfway point. I have more years behind me than ahead.

Just as a quantity, forty one years doesn't sound so bad. When I think of how my life is so radically different over the last twenty or ten or even five years, then forty years sounds like an amount of time full of potential to do so much.

Qualitatively, though, I feel like I'm already more or less just clocking time until death. If I have a child tomorrow, I won't live to see my child reach the age I am now. I'm not going to have a child tomorrow, because I just haven't really been interested in kids up until now, and I'm not sure if I've had a change of heart. What I feel isn't a desire to settle down, to be a parent. I just feel the possibility of making that choice fading away from me.

My beard feels different. It's not the white hairs that bother me, it's that in the last year or so, somehow the hairs on my chin have become more scraggly, a little rougher to the touch. I feel like two days of letting my beard grow in ages my appearance by ten years. I feel like the world sees me as an old man now.

I've never been a super good looking guy who attracts lots of women, but the one thing I had going for me was being more afraid of dying alone than fear of rejection, which meant I was always fairly bold about approaching women. Dating is a low percentage game, there are always more reasons why you'll be turned down than accepted, and the only way past that is to keep taking shots, which I did. So, while I had my share of missed opportunities and failures, over the course of a lifetime, I think I've done okay. But I don't feel that way about my future. I'm not who I want to be and so I don't feel like I've got anything to offer, and I've lost the fear of dying alone. So recently I haven't been as bold as I have in the past.

It's not just dating. I don't have anything like the kind of job I envisioned for myself, I don't live in the kind of place I thought a person my age would live in, and I don't have a history of work that I can point to and say that I gave it my best shot but ended up here because the forces of life are bigger than any of us. The forces of life are bigger than any of us, but all you can do in the face of that is try your hardest. And I didn't. I have a long list of half done projects, hopeful ambitions, and sketched out ideas for what would have been a great way to go forward in life had I started a decade earlier.

What I have done is make some pretty grand decisions that put me where I am, without concern for whether or not the results are what I wanted. For example, for all sorts of reasons having to do with running away from my problems from an early age, I came to Tokyo to live. Growing up in Vancouver, at least before the current housing problems there, even low income families like mine lived in houses. It was just built into my image of being an adult that you had a house. Well, one place you don't easily get a house is in the middle of fucking Tokyo. Not that I'm in any place to even be considering a mortgage anywhere on the planet, but even if I was, this would be one of the dumbest places to realize that default ambition, and so it's just one of the many examples of how I made decisions that aren't necessarily bad, but don't align with the model of life I discover now that I had always assumed.

What I mean is, it's perfectly fine to make it your ambition to want to live in Tokyo and choosing to have a small apartment in order to be in the centre of one of the most vibrant metropolises in the world. But, if you have a model buried deep in your mind from when you were a child of what being an adult looked like, and it looks nothing like that, then there's a problem. There's no right or wrong between a house with a yard that's perfect for families or a small apartment just barely satisfactory for bringing home the most recent in a serial of girlfriends. There is a lot wrong with that never having been a choice, to assume one was the default future and to just exist in a present that extends into the future you end up with, like it or not.

I've made a lot of sacrifices that I didn't even mean to make. For example, it's one of my points of pride that I started taking improv classes when I was twelve, long before there were classes for kids, and so I trained with the adults. It was a fantastic experience, and I took to it more than I have almost any other endeavour, and as a result I think I'm pretty good at improv. Instead of finding out what I could have become by growing alongside the Vancouver Theatresports League, which is a huge success now and full of fun and talented people, instead of whatever possibility that might have been, I came to Tokyo. I never asked, I never even knew to ask what it would mean for my life to move away from the city where I was doing something I loved, and into a city where now I hardly ever do it. I never fucking asked myself what I was doing and what would happen if I did it, not just for improv, but for so many decisions. At least, not until I was decades deep into the consequences of those decisions.

Short story, I think I fucked up my life.

I think most people's image of fucking up a life is like slipping off the rails you thought you were supposed to be on. Like looking down at a text while driving and getting into a car accident. You were driving to your job, or a date, or a barbecue with your friends in the backyard of your suburban home that's big enough to set up a portable volleyball net, or whatever. You were going where your life was supposed to go, and then you blinked, you lost focus at a critical moment, and now all that was supposed to be is ruined. Fucking up your life, as a concept, has a built in presumption that there was a right way to measure the degree to which things fucked up.

But what if there are no rails? I've had plans, I've had goals, I've had ambitions, and I've explored all sorts of methodologies for trying to get organized, to figure out what was important, to try and create steps toward results. And yet, somehow there were never any rails, no way of knowing how close or far I ever have been from what might be an arc of life that I would agree with myself about its value.

I never stopped starting. I still feel sort of 25 in that I keep thinking of things I would like to do with my future. I think of women I would like to date in terms of dating them and experiencing them and not really worried about how it ends or continues. I think of projects in terms of new possibilities, and constantly feeling like now I'm on the right path, even though the path branches and branches and branches. Deep down I know every branch is like any of the branches I was on previously, and just as inconsequential. It's this sort of youthful, ambitious, hopeful mindset that is maybe healthy when there is a future to capitalize on.

But what if there is no future anymore? I feel too old to ask out the women I want to ask out. I feel like all the projects in front of me are just waiting for me to apply my standard approach of taking eighteen months to half finish them, like every other project in my past. Except now, I am so much more aware of the mortality I'm burning by not becoming anything. What's the point of becoming a world famous author if by the time you're there, you're too tired to want to leave your house to interact with any fans? After all, I don't really give a fuck about leaving a legacy after I'm dead. I'm only interested in what kind of experience I can derive from my efforts, and I have to be alive for that.

And not merely alive, but alive enough. And right now, as I write this, I think I might already be past my "best by" date.

Which makes this read like a suicide note. What's the point of being alive if you're not living? Except I'm too afraid of death to ever contemplate suicide. There's only one choice, which is try to make the best of it. Okay, I've fucked up my life, now what?