Time's Running Out

Submitted into Contest #139 in response to: Start your story with the words: “Grow up.”... view prompt


Inspirational Funny

"Grow up and get on with it, your life isn’t going to just happen!" That's what I used to get told when I was a teenager. Sound familiar? Life is, however, more likely to give you a slap one of these days. So here’s a little bit of advice now from a fucking failure.

I can't stress enough how important it is for us to live our lives with purpose, our own purpose, with our own values and desires. Don't listen to anyone or anything except yourself, because doing what we want to do, or maybe not doing what we don't want to do, as opposed to doing things we don't want to do, is all that we have to bring a modicum of satisfaction and even happiness to our life sentence. That's about the gist of what I’m preaching here today. 

As our alive days reduce, some of us aging folk become increasingly aware of our achievements, or more likely, our lack of achievement. It can often cause immense sadness, or sometimes spark a twilight explosion of creativity or destruction. Some of us just don't give a shit because they know that it doesn't matter in the end. A dead child buried next to a ninety-five year old grandfather won't matter tomorrow. How many people have heard of Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, or Audie Murphy? And twenty years from now? Others will never give it a second thought, like sheep wandering contentedly through the green fields, straight onto the lorries and blissfully into the slaughterhouse. It may well appear to be quite a contentious statement, but this seems to me a lot like believing in a heavenly afterlife, which has got to be a bit of an easy ride. 

I keep telling young people that they need to be more aware of the brevity of their lives. They sometimes nod, as if they're interested, but more often look at me like I'm crazy. Ultimately, they just don't believe me. But, Iet's face it, who would or should believe me? Certainly not a 15 year old boy who has the world at his feet and has all the answers. Who can tell him that it's not a good idea to stick his head into VR world at every opportunity? Who can tell him that it's a dangerously slippery slope to enjoy getting out of his face on dope and speed?

Not me, not more than once anyway, and not because I'm too fucking old to have the chance to say "I told you so, you stupid little prick!" But wouldn't that be something? Imagine being around when they become fucked up old failures too? Maybe I could haunt them, though there's probably no need to be a ghost to haunt someone. 

Though far from unique, I think that I may be one of a minority that managed to grasp the true meaning of life from a young age. However, I was never inspired by this to aspire to be the best I could possibly be, though arguably, I have actually managed this anyway. I was, however, inspired to always make a minimum of effort and utilise the easiest ways to get through each predicament in the journey of my life. This may be because I realised that all roads ultimately lead to the same place, but it's also because I'm naturally brain lazy.

When I was that spotty self loathing teenager, deliberating on Billie's sad short life, and other such depressants, I couldn't imagine there being a worthwhile or meaningful life beyond forty years of age. I couldn't actually imagine being forty years old. How much more unbearable would living be then? I thought I should kill myself at that age. Now that's a suicide plan!

I had a strangely ennuitic evening recently (I made that one, up in case you're wondering) in which I found myself looking through old email files. One file was a conversation with my schoolboy stepson, in which I am attempting to engage him in a joint writing project. I hoped to inspire him to use his imagination, to create, to learn, and possibly even to think. This failed miserably due to all the normal reasons, and now that I think about it, joined-up writing would have been over-optimistic. For some reason I ended up working out the probable percentage of his life that he'd already lived, when it dawned on me that this was quite possibly the same percentage as I had left to live. 

It hit me like a ton of bricks, it was almost devastating, especially when I realised, again, that it would be no great surprise, except maybe to me, should I slip out of this mortal coil as early as next Sunday. So, from not having the stomach to see out my fortieth year, my stomach now churns at the thought of not seeing my sixtieth, seventieth or eightieth! I felt totally helpless and hopeless. I was also embarrassed by my wastefulness, and by my lack of resolve and commitment to any aspect of my life since I had been that dull spotty kid. 

There was a time, a few years ago, that I went through this personal transition, the uncharitable among you would probably call it a midlife crisis, but whatever it was, I was able to get shot of my deadwood and find myself a little bit of happiness for once. I resolved to do all those things that I had always wanted to do. I made plans to make the rest of my life count, no more wasting time, and no more of being unhappily tied to any person, manager or institution. My intention was to relax, to enjoy the remainder of my life and hold on to this little bit of happiness.

However, since all that resoluting I've continued to let that little time slip by. And all those great ideas, those things I planned and those great intentions? Well I've just avoided them all. I've made excuses, I've rationalised, and I've blamed everything except what I now believe to be my own fear of failing. Now, I haven't really a hope of achieving anything. If I had, it would require one hundred percent commitment and a big fucking truck full of luck.

So I've grown up, or have I, and maybe I should've listened to what I preach, but I'm faced once again with my nature, my character and all my fucking failings, but now I'm also running out of time.

March 29, 2022 11:40

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