I’ve been thinking a lot about time. About how once it’s gone, it’s gone. For the longest time I thought that was the worst thing. I thought about all the time I’d wasted. All the time that I’d thrown away that was gone forever. I thought about every time I sat in a classroom at work playing games on my phone when I could have been on my feet out in the street making photographs, planning a better lesson, writing a blog post, studying some Japanese, studying some English, talking to someone. How many days, weeks, months, fuck, years of my life have I spent not being productive, not pushing forward, not trying to better myself? The answer is incalculable. But then I had another thought: how much of my life do I consider to have been wasted? Fucking none of it.
Right now, I am the most pumped, the most driven, the most excited, the most in love, the healthiest I have ever been. When I first came to Japan I rushed for the train most days because I’d stayed in bed until the last possible second, rushed a shower and ran out the door. Now I get out of bed at 7:30 every damn day and do something with my time. Side note: I work 12-9, not 9-5. I know for sure I’m not wasting my time now. Could I still be using it better? Damn straight. It’s a process. That’s where I’ve landed on the wasted time of years gone by. It was part of the process. Part of how I came to be so fucking pumped to be getting up at 7:30, going for a run, studying some Japanese, and then heading out the door.
If I could go back and not spend so much time rewatching shit TV on my ass, would I? I don’t think I would. Maybe my body would be in better condition. Maybe I’d be better able to argue why I think the clock in The Great Gatsby is an infinitely better metaphor than the Green Light (which I’d still put in my top five dopest metaphors, mind). But would I still be who I consider ‘me’? I’d be a guy who never watched Inspector Gadget until 4am and that guy isn’t me. I did that shit. It was dumb. I spent a whole bunch of time in my final year of university playing a browser version of Zork and watching Battlestar Galactica on DVD. Is that an inherently good decision? Not even a little bit. But it’s one of many ridiculous decisions I’ve made in my life. Decisions that lead me to graduating a university I didn’t want to go to with a grade no one really gives a shit about. That lead me to working in a supermarket cafe for two years, until I got fed up and quit so I could spend a month in my friends spare bedroom learning how to teach English well enough to get a job in Japan. Japan; where I bought a camera, met the person I love most in the world, finally got good at some shit and wound up stoked. Wound up writing at 11:45pm – 16 hours and fifteen minutes; a run; a Japanese lesson; six hours of classes; a walk; a letter to Yuka; a whole bunch of Kanji and vocab after waking up. Wound up me.
I’ll never tell anyone to put off studying for days so they can play a text based adventure game from the 70s (Zork is great). I’ll never tell anyone to sit at home and watch Futurama for the 100th time instead of doing just about anything else (Futurama is great). I don’t want to do those things anymore. But I can’t make myself regret having done them. I can’t make myself regret having not put enough work in two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. I didn’t put enough work in when I was 8 years old and wanted to be Stoke City and England goalkeeper. So I’m not Stoke City and England goalkeeper. I believe in Jack Butland though. But now, in 2018, for the first time in my life I’m learning how to work fucking hard because I want to, not because I have to. I love it. If I’d worked hard at university I might well be a well-employed chump in a job I hate with rent I can’t afford somewhere in London. I might well be an unbelievably happy PhD graduate with a job I love anywhere in the world. I don’t know. Both those guys fell out of existence years before they could ever have existed in the first place. I didn’t always work hard enough for a whole bunch of reasons and I can’t say any of them were good. I can’t say any of them made my life better at the time and I certainly don’t advocate for doing anything less with your time than putting it to task to make yourself a better person.
But every second spent worrying about time you didn’t spend properly in the past is time you’re not spending properly now. It’s over. That time is gone. You’re not. This second isn’t, this year isn’t. Your life isn’t. Not yet, but it will be. You’re not who you might have been. You might have been a happy millionaire if you’d answered ‘no’ every time Netflix asked if you were still watching. Then again, you might have ended up a complete sack of shit – millionaire or not. Neither of those people exist. You exist. Right fucking now. And if you want to be a millionaire, start working for it. If you want to be a complete sack of shit, start working for it. Every day you get to make that choice again and again until eventually all the time is gone. If when that time comes I can look around and be happy with my life right then, like I am right now, why would I ever give a shit that I spent a night in 2012 playing Zork when I should have been reading Hemingway?
Tokyo, February 2018