Don’t waste your life

March 3, 2010

How can life be wasted? What does it even mean: wasted life? A friend told me today about her father informing her, that she wasted her life, and it stuck with me, because I could not see how she could do such a thing. I could not see how life could be wasted. Am I wasting my life? I am not doing what many would agree I am supposed to be doing. I don’t build a career for myself, I don’t have a job nor do I look for one, I don’t have much money nor do I feel I need more. I don’t have children, nor do I plan on having any. I don’t own much, other than clothes, books and some furniture. I have no safety, no security, no property and no prospects of having any. Am I wasting my life? From my friend’s father’s point of view – yes, I am. But not from my point of view. From the “normal”, “common”, “established”, “traditional”, point of view I have not achieved much in my life. I have not gathered much, I have not accumulated much, I have not created much of what society considers desirable, important, necessary. I have not followed the rules which we all, normally, play by. In fact I did my best no to follow them therefore, from the game’s point of view, from the society’s point of view, my life is wasted. Wasted, because I can never win. I can never win, if I don’t play. But I have made a choice not to play, and this is what makes my life valuable in my eyes. I have chosen to spend my life on discovering who I am, in relationship to it. There are no rules or structures that can help me with my purpose. No one can tell me what to do or how. None of the “ways of doing things” can be of any use to me if I want to do what I want to do. Because I am the only one who knows what it is that I want, who knows how what I want looks like. My life is very well spent, according to me, because I chose to create it myself. My life is very valuable, according to me, because I chose to design it and to decide how it looks. I decide whether having stuff or money is important or not, I decide whether being rich is a mark of status and value, I decide whether I should have a job, or work a lot, or not at all. I decide. And because I decide how my life looks like – my life is not wasted. When I thought about the place from which I see my life, and the place from which my friend’s father sees it, I realized that what he sees as life well spent I see as life wasted. What I see as life well spent, he sees as life wasted. And yet, though our points of view are as different as may be, I do not see his life as wasted – if he has chosen it for himself. There is a young men I know. He has chosen to be a film maker and decided to put his entire energy and time into it. He doesn’t have a job, he doesn’t have a home. He lives on couches, in guesthouses, supported by his friends. He does odd things here and there to make some money, but other than that he focuses his entire attention on doing what he wants to do in life. What he wants is important to him, everything else is a distraction. He doesn’t do the right thing, not by a long shot. He does some things that can be questionable, from the normal, moral point of view, and from my point of view. He does some things that I could criticize him for, and yet yesterday, when Chris and I were talking about him, I found myself saying: he really is a quite remarkable man. As I considered this closer I realized that I do feel that about him. He is not a “good person”, he does some things I would not do myself, but he knows he’s doing them. He chooses to do them, he owns the fact that he is doing them. He decides. He designs how his life looks, he creates it how he wants it. Whether I agree with his choices or not doesn’t matter much – his choices are his, mine are mine, naturally they are different. What matters, I realized yesterday, what is important, is that he is there, present, aware. That he is the one who chooses. And so today, after I talked to my friend, as I thought about life wasted, I realized that this is what a wasted life means to me: a life that I did not choose, life that is organized for me by others, life that follows the rules set by society, culture, parents, teachers, establishment, anyone but me. If I am not present in my life, if I am not choosing it, creating it, designing it – then I am wasting it.

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