Existing vs Living

About 10 years ago my father said something to me that I never forgot.

He came into my room to inquire why I had slept so late. It was obvious. I was hungover. Like most nights in my early 20s, I spent them drinking into the wee hours of the morning, then sleeping till noon. He told me I had to get my act together, which was nothing new. Then he said something that sorta stung.

“You’re not living,” he said. “You’re just existing.”

It was the deepest thing I’ve ever heard my father say. I brushed it off at the time but it stayed with me. In the years that followed I like to think I stopped “existing” and started living. Partying became less frequent. Aidan came into my life. Gram died. I got a job as a journalist. I bought a jeep. I moved out on my own. I inherited a dog. I sold my jeep. I became an Uncle. I’d say I’ve been living my life, not just existing.

But sometimes I can’t help but feel complacent.  When I was “existing”, granted, life was simple, but it was a hell of lot more fun. “Living” can be boring. Monday through Friday my routine has been the same for years. Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat. Walk dog. Watch Tv. Play on computer. Go to bed. Repeat.

Weekend used to be filled with endless possibilities. Now a great weekend is watching two good movies instead of one. Parties are far and few between and I honestly can’t remember the last time I was drunk. I almost want to say Road Race, TWO YEARS AGO.

I used to think that having a wife and kids was the missing element. The link between the mundane and exciting. The fuel that will restart a stagnant existence. Maybe it is. But I’m not so sure anymore. Many of my friends who are married with children often complain about the same things I do. Being bored. Being complacent. Existing instead of living. I bumped into an old friend a few weeks back who was holding his daughter while his other kid pestered him for candy. “This is my life now,” he said with a pained look on his face. I’m sure he was happy for the most part but there’s a lot of stress there too.

Half the problem is I had it really good, better than most I’d wager, for a really long time. Things didn’t really slow down until my late 20s and I suppose a life filled with zip and zazz takes more than a few years to get used to when things inevitably slow down.

The best part of the film Hot Tub Time Machine, besides the bear giving the black dude a blow job, was a quote from John Cusack’s character when he spoke so fondly of his past.

“We were young. We had momentum. We were winning,” he said.

Amen brother. Amen.

Well, it’s 11 p.m. Time to take the dog out then go to bed.


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