I came across this short but extremely powerful post on the gapingvoid blog. It not only moved me but forced me to question myself, to ask myself what is it that I’ve done in my life. I thought it needed to be reproduced in full here, with proper attribution.
To paraphrase Seneca, the tragedy isn’t that life is short, the tragedy is that we waste so much of it.
The other types of tragedy, the more violent kind, never worry me too much, thankfully. I never lost much sleep, worrying about wars or serial killers or whatever.
But the thought of getting to the end of my life and realizing that I had wasted most of it, that froze my blood.
As it should…
To this day, I remember that day in the summers of 2008 when I decided to pack and seal my laptop inside my cupboard, and board a one-way plane to Quetta to spend a month with relatives away from everything I did at home, far, far away from any form of technology. All I had when I reached the airport were a bag full of clothes, a book, and my cellphone (I decided to carry so that I could keep in touch with parents).
One month later when I returned, I had an incredibly painful realization dawn on me. I felt I had wasted an entire month of my life doing absolutely nothing. I thought of all the ways in which I could’ve spent that month that would’ve meant something meaningful to me, or of all the productive things I could’ve done that would’ve helped me and/or my never ending quest for knowledge and for doing things that matter. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I had wasted over thirty days, doing nothing more than resting, reading a book that was purely fiction, and socializing with limited relatives.
People take breaks, vacations, to cut themselves away from their hectic lives in order to refresh themselves, to revitalize themselves, to save themselves from the risk of burning out. When they come back to their lives after such breaks, they feel energized and ready to again take on the mountains that lay before them.
I took a vacation, I took a break. I took rest, I cut myself away from technology, from the usual things that made up my hectic life. But when I came back, I didn’t feel energized. I didn’t feel revitalized. I felt regret. I felt slow and lethargic. I felt angry at myself for having wasted so much time doing nothing.
To this day, I live with that regret. I understand that regrets are harmful and best thrown away, but that’s one of those things that are easier said than done.