These last few weeks have been pretty hectic. Everything’s a bit of a blur. I’ve been doing a lot of overtime at work because of this new arrangement in place involving other hospitals. (Can’t say too much, of course, because of privacy reasons or whatever.) I just worked six consecutive days – some of which were 11-12 hour days – and I am quite exhausted, but also not. I think I’ve just been running on adrenaline all week because I only had a total of maybe 3 cups of coffee and one cup of tea the whole week (and the most recent two beverages were probably unnecessary anyway).
Well, maybe we’ll call it adrenaline and fear/panic. There have been many times these last few weeks when I’ve felt like I was working as if my life depended on it. It’s like a fear of death (i.e. consequences) or fear of God (i.e. management – except I’m not really afraid of management; they’ve been very supportive). Continue reading
I’ve still been reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, still been carrying it around with me everywhere I go (I always take a book wherever I go – well, almost everywhere). A colleague (now, sadly, ex-colleague) commented the other week, when she saw me walking around at work with it, that she thought I was holding the Bible. I joked to her that it basically was like a bible to me.
For about two days, there has been a large black moth perched on the wall above the door to the bathroom. You know the ones – moths the size of butterflies, but black as soot with two piercing eyes emblazoned on their wings. I remember there were heaps of them around the old heritage-listed buildings of my high school. They seem harmless enough, but are still spooky as.
The other morning, as I watched it doing nothing, and contemplated showing it the way out, I started thinking about what it’d be like to be almost perfectly still, in one place, for two whole days. I wondered about whether the moth was bored, or whether it even had the capacity to feel bored or dissatisfied.
I wondered, hypothetically, if it had the capacity to comprehend “life” and “meaning”, whether it would mourn its lack of either. If the moth doesn’t understand sadness, does it likewise not understand happiness? Does it simply not care? Here, however, I’m imposing my own human ideas of “sadness” and “happiness” onto something that is not human. Surely that’s not fair…?
I wonder what the moth would say of its own life.
Isn’t the contemplation of life, in itself, such an incredible feat?
I read an article the other day about finding purpose in life. I read it partly because I was bored, and partly because I was a bit curious to see if it was actually going to offer some decent advice, as it wasn’t from any of the usual sites that people share articles from.
I don’t actually remember anything from the article (pretty sure this was over a week ago…) except the last question it posed: If you only had one year left to live, what would you do differently?
I thought that that was an interesting question. One year is long enough to accomplish something significant, but not too long that long-term consequences really matter. Of course, the assumption is that you’re practically invincible for this one, final year – otherwise, I (and I assume plenty of others) would probably become more risk-averse, and hence not want to do anything with high risk of mortality/morbidity.
But I didn’t really like how the question implies that most people would change a lot of things in their final year, so I created a converse question: If you only had one year left, what would you do the same?
Ok, so the original question is good for people wanting to re-focus on what’s really important in their lives, and for people who need a bit of a nudge to actually do the things that make them feel happy/inspired/fulfilled, etc. But sometimes you also have to recognise and appreciate the things that are already good. I found it more satisfying to ponder my question than the original one (although I have realised that the original question is an all-too-convenient excuse to buy things I don’t really need (but that’s arguable) and to eat more cake).
So, after some thought, I’ve put together a list of (some of) the things that I would not change if I knew I had exactly one year left to live:
- Work: This is probably one of the things that people consider first when asked a question like this (along with questions about winning large sums of money). Maybe I’d move to part-time hours, but I’d still go to work – up until the last couple of months at least.
- Run: I don’t think there’s much need to explain this. I like running. I see no reason to stop or reduce how much I run in this hypothetical scenario.
- Read: I would still read novels, but perhaps just be more selective with which ones I read. One I’d definitely want to finish is Dickens’ “David Copperfield”. I guess that’s next on my reading list then…
- Write: After having this blog for so long, I’d feel weird stopping it suddenly. Besides, despite the irregularity of my posts (timing, content, style, etc), I do like to write. I can’t imagine not writing for a year.
And, of course, there are several other things, but I reckon those are the main ones.
I’ve been noticing something rather strange and ironic that seems to be happening more and more lately. (Well, it seems to have plateaued or abated a bit since I wrote the draft for this post – handwrote, mind you – but still worth posting, I suppose. I don’t usually handwrite drafts for posts, but I was being lazy and didn’t want to turn on my laptop, so I just grabbed some scrap paper and a pencil. And then I forgot about it for a few weeks…)
The phenomenon I speak of is this trend of using social media against itself. More specifically, it’s all these videos and photos (or “memes” if you will) that are circulating on Facebook that either encourage people to stop spending so much time on social media sites, or that make fun of how obsessed everyone is with FB/Twitter/Instagram/whatever other sites people use to consume every spare waking second of their lives.
Now, to be clear, I have nothing against these things, just as I have nothing against social media, as such. I just thought it was ironic. But, then again, how else are people going to get these sorts of messages out?
While on the subject of social media, I’ve also been noticing a lot of people “sharing” articles about life lessons and stuff like that. These are usually titled something like “Ten things you learn in your twenties” or “Seven things every 30 year old should know”, and (from the ones that I have been bored/curious enough to read) these articles tend to offer very generic/repetitive advice like “prioritise your life – work isn’t the most important thing” or “it’s impossible to keep every friend you’ve ever made”.
The funny thing about a lot of these sorts of articles is that they also tell readers to not worry if they feel like they don’t have everything figured out, because there’s no master formula that will work for everyone. If the article does include a point like this, it’s usually at the end, which basically translates in my mind to “just ignore everything you just read – you’ll probably figure it out for yourself and still survive”. Great.