Accept Mortality, Take Action

“Well, just start,” I tell myself for the ten thousandth time this year. Fruitless. My attempts to climb this great mountain of starting something on the side falter again. My ambition collapses again as I sit in my basement, alone, mindlessly thumbing through irrelevant answers on Quora.

The past half a year has been laden with obstacles, the world constantly tempting me to stay the same while some voice in my brain whispers: “no, staying the same is worse than death.”

Two and a half months after forking over the cash for a “change your life” course that looked interesting, I finally make a few minutes to open it up and watch the introductory videos. Alone in my house (wifey at work, child #1 at daycare & #2 out for a walk with Opa), I sprint upstairs to grab some headphones. God forbid someone catches me watching those lessons in a well-meaning attempt to better myself.

Keenly aware of my embarrassment, I plug the earbuds in and watch the three introductory videos where the course guides discuss their personal triumphs and tragedies. My wife won’t be home for more than two hours. Opa doesn’t speak any english and would be none the wiser, should he somehow come home and interrupt my mental masturbation session.

It wasn’t the first course that I bought. It also wasn’t the first course that I didn’t finish. Sometimes that’s what those courses feel like : mental masturbation, exercises in futility, a feel-good measure designed to permit me a rush of endorphins as I whip out my credit card and click “buy”.

That’s probably why most people buy them. I’m always convinced that this time it’s serious. This time I’m really going to take those first steps.

Therein lies one of my greatest challenges. I am embarrassed that I’m not content. I blush at the mention of my aims to start something outside of corporate life. The morbid thought of someone discovering my desire for something wilder turns my hands to ice and makes my mind race with fear.

For a long time, I was more afraid of my wife finding out than I am of our life’s current course.

The more I write, the more it sounds like a serious secret: “I’ve got a porn habit, a drug addiction, and oh by the way, I killed a baby seal last week.”

I could have blamed her for my stagnation. Her criticism of my dreams, her pessimism when it comes to entrepreneurship. Her belief that corporate life is a better life. However, providing evidence to the contrary is my responsibility, and here I have failed by never starting. With nothing to show for my year of dreaming, why reason would she have to be supportive? Those dreams are simply dreams.

Again, it’s time to turn off the TV, it’s time to stop merely listening to podcasts, stop simply reading. It’s time to do something more than just dreaming. It’s time to take action.

But I’m still here in my basement, waiting it out. Someday, I say. Someday I’ll find time, or the right idea.

Maybe that will work out, but maybe not. At some point my life will end, and I will cease to be. My juvenile mind refuses to accept this. Grasping my own mortality is a task for which I am not quite ready.

Someday, I will be gone and my future will cease.

For now, I am sure that I have time. With advances in modern medicine I could have as much as 70 years left (I’m currently 33). Forty to fifty is much more likely, but who knows. It’s also possible that I have less than ten. I have friends whose fathers died in their early forties. My grandfather is still alive. Either way, if it’s ten or if it’s seventy, at some point I will die. At that point, all the things yet undone will forever remain undone.

And I struggle to accept these facts is real. This nonacceptance leaves me paralyzed. Without a strong “why” to drive me I will remain here stagnating. Wishing for things that will never come true, dreaming of a life lived differently.

All of the books and the articles that I’ve read, every hour of podcasts is worthless if it doesn’t translate into action.

Find your why, pick a target, take a step. I’m still working on mine.

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