While I'm ordinarily very sociable, I get downright reclusive on my birthday. I've been that way as long as I can remember, and this Friday was no exception: I ate alone and spent a few relaxed hours in the evening talking with a couple of friends over midoris and vodkas.
One of the more troubling realizations I came up with that evening was that there are certain ages which I have no concrete memories of. For instance, I flat-out don't remember being 25. Or 27. Sure, I can look at my resume and read what I was supposedly doing professionally at the time - but it's unnerving to realize that my life can coast along for twelve months and remain empty of truely memorable events that rises above the mist of daily routine.
This is your life ... and it's ending one second at a time.
Coincidently, I caught a highly relevant recent journal entry from a FOAF, Simon Funk.
Life is both so short and yet so tediously long.
With each passing year, we integrate the world on more and more abstract levels, the minutia becoming less and less surprising, and the true novelties relegated to ever grander scales (and thus further and further apart). So the time-line of consciousness is (potentially) exponential, yet the time-line of our physical existence is depressingly linear.
So there is this choice, to live a linear life (as most people do, by default) or strive for the exponential one, or to try to find some balance in the middle. But that balance is a hard one, between a linear and an exponential function with time itself pulled taught between the two. What if you had the choice between doing something today that you would enjoy, or starting something today that would take ten days but, in the end, bring you twice as much joy? Or a hundred days and thrice the joy? Or a thousand days and four times? Or possibly the rest of your life, and five times (if you didn't die first)?
Perhaps the healthy person just integrates it linearly, says ten days of unit joy is five times better than one shot of double-joy. But I think I'm a junky at heart. F--- with all the inbetween time, I want that unparalleled experience, whatever the cost. And once I've had it, I want the next level up. I already know what it's like to have a nice day. Why do it twice? I'll give up the rest of my nice days in exchange for an amazing day.
I've spent the past few days investigating the possibility of selling my nonessential possessions, packing a few bags and a handful of traveler's cheques, and go spend half a year living/studying in a Muay Thai a dojo in Thailand. Weekends can be set aside for writing, rock-climbing and hiking ... even with zero income, a man can live like a king in Thailand for US$600 a month. There's always good money to be made when I return to civilization but I'd be damned if I coast through another year of life without a vivid memory or experience to claim as my own.
Adventure begins when one takes the initiative to step outside the familiar and comfortable ... and wander forth out of Skara Brae into the wild unknown.
One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company ...