Time for a bit of role-playing:
Your character is a single male New Zealander, just turned 27. You live in London, and have done so for three years. Education-wise, you have a degree in English Studies and another in Film Studies, plus a diploma in teaching. Relationship-wise, you’ve had one four-year long one and a bunch of few-monthers. Job-wise, you work in an uninspired office job that you don’t loathe but certainly don’t care for- essentially brainless, but it pays enough to have a nice flat, a decent amount of alcomahol, and the occasional holiday. You’re definitely not the greatest looking guy in the world, but you’re probably not out-and-out ugly (it’s tough to tell, no-one is ever up-front with you on this one).
You’re a fairly happy guy, you go out a lot, you have a lot of friends in the city (though none particularly close) who you enjoy spending time with, you have all your teeth and pretty much could continue along as you are indefinitely with not a lot of complaints. But every morning on the train you can’t help but feel that your life is in a holding pattern, and has been for the last two years. You feel full of potential for….something, but you have no idea what. You’re not attached to any job, any person, any mode of life. If disaster were to befall you, your family is sufficiently caring and wealthy to bail you out of ever being homeless or trapped.
You are free! You can go anywhere, try anything, be anything.
But you don’t know what to do with that freedom. You desperately want to do that nagging something that you feel is inside you, but despite spending literally hours a day pondering it, you have no idea what it is you are retroactively destined to do with yourself.
What do you do?
Ladies and gentlemen, forget reality TV, arbitrary situations forced on wannabe attention seekers! I am offering you the chance to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime reality experience! For I am that man who’s treading water, waiting fruitlessly for life to wash him in a certain direction. And, much as hippies give themselves over to the directions of stars and zodiacs, I am giving myself over, puppet-like, to your control. I have fifteen short years to make or break my existence, and I need suggestions: Your suggestions. You have a human being in your absolute power- feel that rush to the head? Tell me what to do! Tell me what to be! Short term, long term, I don’t care!
Winners of the ‘Direct Dan’s Existence’ competition (best suggestion is the victor, and I will follow their suggestion to the letter) will receive the satisfaction of knowing they turned a young man’s life around, and set it on the path of their dictates- better than winning a fridge, eh?
Time for a bit of role-playing:
Ooh, it’s like The Dice Man, although you’ve at least given yourself the the freedom to make the final choice. In order to burden you properly when that time comes, I give you two suggestions.
1. Consider what you would do if you won a ridiculous amount of money. Not immediately. After you’ve done all the hideously expensive things, travelled a lot, bought an ideal home in your location of choice and so on, and you no longer need to work, but you have your whole life in front of you… what do you do to kill time then? Whatever it is, it probably doesn’t cost a great deal.
(In my case, if you were wondering, it turned out to be strangling weasels. Now a day seldom goes by without my clutching a small furry animal by the throat. I feel much better.)
2. Remain exactly as you are, day in, day out, until you reach an age where you’re so entrenched in this lifestyle that change is no longer possible.
Ooh, I like Dr. Pockless’ plan #1. Possibly because that’s pretty much what I’m trying to do myself (although with less strangling things and more writing of software).
I had a similar “ooh, I’ve only got one of these life things, so I guess I should try to use it well” dilemma a couple of years back, but I’d always had a reasonable idea of what I wanted to do, and it was more a case of getting the courage to try it.
It is very easy to get stuck in something which is too comfortable; getting made redundant is a good way out of that, but there are probably better ways 🙂
Good luck, and enjoy it*!
*insert “it” as appropriate…
Yeah, this is similar to how I arrived at my current situation (in an oversimplified manner). About a year ago I was working for a company who had given me shares and it looked like they were going to be bought for rather a lot of money in the immediate future. I decided that I would return to University to do an MA in animation.
None of the above things happened. I am not doing an MA, the company wasn’t bought and I no longer work for them.
But I am animating. The point is, to figure out what you really really want to do, and I think the coming-into-a-lot-of-money scenario helps you figure it out. And to realise that you don’t necessarily need the money to do what you want.
…the money would have been nice though…
All this power at your fingertips, and you’re asking what I want to do?!? You have a human Guinea Pig, to do with what you please, Godlike power over one special person, and you’re giving him choice?!?
Methinks you didn’t read the competition right!
Now go and choose your drink. I’ll be very depressed if tomorrow night comes round and no-one is drinking.
My way of working out what I really wanted was to do what I thought I really wanted, get it all horribly wrong, and accidentally find exactly what I wanted by giving up on the crazy plan and starting over with nothing. You could try that.
I think Karen says it all. We find out what it is we want when doing the thing we think is what it is we want.
Okay. If you insist. Disregard my previous options which foolishly take into account your ignoble mortal requirements. Speaking as your appointed demi-God, I hereby proclaim that you should devote your life to commercial poetry. Quit your job and hammer out couplets until you can earn enough from them to eat. If this necessitates a period of dire poverty, then so be it.
good lord D, are you my long lost twin? same degrees, diploma, dilemma, etc… but at 32, somehow I feel both more time pressure and conversely more relaxed about it… we all live several different lifetimes in our lifetimes. You are putting so much pressure on yourself to do this one amazing thing that will justify your existence, but you can try things and mess up, go on to the next… who’s counting?
Take up a new hobby. Needlework is good. You could try “Extreme Needlework” which involves finding somewhere dangerous (like a pub in millwall during the FA cup final between Millwall and someone who’s going to kick their arses) and do needlework there.
Then become an expert on Port wine. You’ll have to drink a lot of it and inevitably get gout, but at least you’ll be a connisseur and can contribute to any post-dinner conversation.
Then on saturday morning, you can successfully come up with a way of bulding a self sustaining fusion reactor using nothing but the contents of your kithen drawers and the leftovers from your Friday night curry.
Failure to complete any of these tasks will get you voted out.
Degree in Film & Literature? Yes.
Teaching qualification? That too.
Tendency to get sucked into soul destroying jobs bearing no relation to my actual interests? Yes, that is also me.
It seems that a lot of Uborka readers are coming from much the same place. I fancy a bit of extreme needlework myself.
Just don’t do what most people do in a similarly aimless situation and have a child.
Damn, Green Fairy. You’ve spoiled my plan now. I had six orphans on order.
A child….HEY! I hadn’t thought of that! Why keep going with THIS life when I can simply pour my influence into a new one!?
We have a winner! I’m gonna have a baby! Now if I can just find a…..oh…..right….mooooving on.
Any chance of a beer this afternoon?
Spengy – see the post before this one for instructions.
Become a yam farmer. No particular reason other than I like saying the word "yam". It has a certain ring to it.
given ultimate dominion over another person and you ask his opinion?!? I already know that!
So far the only suggestions profered are:
1. Become a full time poet.
2. Take up needlework.
3. Become an obnoxious expert on Port.
4. Build a curry-based fusion reactor.
5. Have a child.
6. Become a Yam Farmer.
Someone mentioned ‘The Dice Man’ in an earlier post, and, whaddya know, six entries! Let me break out my random number generator here….three!
Become an expert on Port!
Competition over, Dragon is theeeee winner!
F**k me! I won something more than a slap in the face! Excellent.
I can introduce you to someone who used to work at a major Port exporter in Oporto too. Bargain service I’m running here!