How To Live Without Really Trying

Christopher Hitchens said towards the end of his autobiography that the tragedy of this life is that we have so many more desires than opportunities. Wherever we are, whatever we do, we can’t help but miss out on something. Worse than this is the possibility that life is what happens when you are waiting for life to begin. As Mariella Frostup counselled a lost young woman over the weekend: ‘You shrug off the more than 20 years that have already passed and mutter about getting to grips with things before you are 30. That will be a third of your life you’ve relegated to a practice run!’

These days I try to get as much as possible every single day. I work, write, go to cultural stuff, take long walks, go for runs, socialise and still fall into bed cursing myself for not doing enough. I’ve lived a little, sure, I’ve danced in fields and quarries, flown to Europe, drank at the Groucho. But like all of us I’ve failed to step up on more than one occasion. I had a neurosis where I kept thinking I was out of the moment even while inside the moment, and couldn’t stop looking at myself from the outside. I’ve turned down interesting propositions, slept through sunshine. I have stayed in when I should have gone out.

The compensatory ultra high-functioning workaholic approach has its problems too, I know – it’s a sure way of having a heart attack before you hit forty. There’s no time, you might not get to do everything you were curious about, you might not even get to read everything you wanted to read. A byproduct of this is that other people’s lives are even more of a mystery to me. I’m completely baffled by people who commit to jobs they dislike and spend every evening in front of the box. I’m sure these guys know something I don’t, but come on, why turn your face against the night?

Of course this is all a bit middle class and ‘first world problems’. Through most of history most people haven’t had the luxuries of this pointless contemplation. And even in this country in 2013 there is still so much suffering and struggle and darkness. So does it matter that I haven’t yet got round to reading Gibbon on the decline of Rome?

Congratulations on reaching the end of what must be the most silly and pointless blog post on here to date.



2 Responses to “How To Live Without Really Trying”

  1. dbyrne Says:

    not pointless at all, but a lot more could be said on this. a lot of meandering in the ether of life with all the media & social networks and we really truly still live in a vacuous bubble of want want want without notions of others. we can like causes and view from the safety of 1st worlds. write more on this please.

  2. Frances Uku (@missuku) Says:

    Contemplation’s hardly ever pointless, Max. I might suggest, however, that longing ain’t a first world problem. My mate @emmaiduma tweeted this only today:

    You want a wider circle is all 😉

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