I’m Retiring (From Being A Guru)
I was feeling reflective today, so I spent the evening reading through this blog’s archive. Everyone tells me that time starts to move faster as you get older, but this past year has felt like the longest of my life.
When I started writing Freedom Twenty-Five, about a year and a half ago, I was in a rough spot. Things were going well on the outside, but my energy levels, my curiousity, my zest for life – all in the toilet. I don’t want to throw too big of a pity party because, 1) I was still an overeducated Canadian yuppie, quite possibly the most privileged of species ever to walk the Earth, and 2) I never really ‘lost myself’ (if that makes any sense to you) as some people do in depressive episodes.
So please, put the violins away.
But that said, I was in a major funk. I’d gone through tough spots in my life before, but never anything comparable to this. I’d felt malaise before, but only with an end date.
Let me tell you about what I used to refer to as The Worst Summer Of My Life.
I had just finished my first year of undergrad. I had a shitty job in a shitty company in a shitty suburb of Toronto. I was poorer than dirt and had to commute twenty kilometres on a cheap bike that rode like crap and fell apart every other week. I lived in a three-bedroom townhouse converted into shoebox apartments for myself and about ten other destitutes. I barely got laid, except for with one nasty girl who lived in the same house. The people I worked with were boring and stupid, and my housemates were nice enough but hardly spoke any English.
Sometimes, I would literally break out laughing, thinking to myself how terrible my life was.
Every day, I would wake up at seven AM, bike to work, get home at six PM, go to the public gym, and then… well, I made some damn fine SimCity 2000 creations and got really into Arrested Development. I would typically go five days in a row every week without any real social interaction.
So, like I said, I would laugh at myself. When I realized I dreaded going to sleep, because doing so would just restart the whole routine over again, I would laugh. When a pedal snapped off my bike and I careened into traffic, missing certain death by six inches, I laughed. When I bought a calendar to hang over my desk in June, so I could count the days down, I laughed. When I had to skip a day of eating to make rent, because I was too proud to ask my Dad for money, I laughed.
I hated my job, my living situation, the people around me. I hated my life.
But, it didn’t get to me. I laughed.
I got in great shape, biking 40k/day and hitting the weights five nights a week. I had a blast one night a week, biking into Toronto to meet up with friends who lived there. I have no desire to show you a picture of the girl I was sleeping with, but I’ll admit this – banging her was fun. And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with an evening spent playing SimCity.
I was able to stay happy, no matter how bad it all got, because there was a defined end date. I had that calendar, and when the X’s reached August 26th, I could leave. I would be back in the young adult paradise otherwise known as the 21st-century higher education system.
A year and a half ago, I didn’t have that light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t working towards a diploma or the set end date of a contract. I was a permanent employee, the idea of doing a PhD in my corrupt, aspergery field filled me with self-loathing, and I had given up on my dream of writing for a living. I was a man without a mission.
I didn’t know what to do, but I realized a few things:
– I still wanted to write
– I’d gained 10-20 pounds of fat in my year as a desk jockey. I wanted to retake control of my health.
– There is something deeply and seriously wrong with our society, on a macro level.
– I didn’t like the path I was on. I needed a new one.
I started writing about these thoughts before I had fully pieced them together. Since then, and with the help of the fellow truth-seekers in the blogroll to your left, I stumbled across some answers. Today, I’m down thirty pounds, I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words for this blog and related projects, I’ve come to a much deeper understanding of what’s wrong with our culture, and while I haven’t found my ultimate path – I’ve gotten off the old one, and I’m trying something new.
It feels good.
In the course of writing my first book, The Freedom Twenty-Five Lifestyle Guide, I had to strike the pose of the Guru. The man who has it all figured out. The teacher.
I didn’t mind doing this, because I was writing about topics that I had figured out. I spent a year teaching myself a crash course in Yuppie Lifestyle Optimization 101, and then I wrote a book to share what I had learned. If you want to learn how to become a better version of yourself, read it.
(Only 3.99! Act Now While Supplies Last!)
But with the launch of the revised Freedom Twenty-Five Lifestyle Guide, I’m announcing my retirement. Not from writing, or from blogging – but from the Guru pose. I’ve taught all that I can teach, for now, so I’m turning in my chalk and attendance sheet. I’m setting my sights on a bigger pond, and that’s going to require getting back in touch with my humility.
So now I ask, World: Teach me what you know! I am your student! I am here, at your mercy! What should I do? Where should I go? What should I write? If I stop picking at it, will it go away?
These questions are all mysteries to me. I’ve taken the meager knowledge that has gotten me this far in life, and vomited it out for you in a cheap and easy-to-read book. It is the absolute cutting edge of the expressible knowledge I’ve accumulated in my short and uneventful life. I offer it to you now. Use it! Take it from me!
But, please don’t expect any books out of me in the near future, with the word “Guide” in their titles. I’m out of guides. I have stories, observations, anecdotes. I have no more guides, for now.
And I feel pretty good about that.