Thursday, 7 March 2013

07/03/13 - Doing Whatever

In the past, JuicyPips has devoted rather a lot of wordage to making the point that you only live once, it’s important not to squander your life, you should be out there achieving interesting things and leaving a legacy for the ages, blah blah etc. Well, that’s all well and good, but there’s another side to it. I mean, yes, the fact that we’re out here in the cosmos, spinning around on this rock, is frankly staggering – the unbelievably specific concatenation of circumstances that has led us to be right here, right now could simply never be replicated again. Conditions are perfect now for this human life. But as incredible and miraculous as you are, it’s worth bearing in mind three important facts:
1) You are just one person in seven billion. You represent a mere 0.00000001% of the total world population. Unless you get to be world champion in something, there will always be a lot of people who are better than you at everything you do (and there will certainly be lots of people who are more interesting, more attractive, and generally more pleasant to be around).
2) Your seventy-odd years on this planet may seem like a pretty good run, but we are, cosmically speaking, little more than a sneeze. The Earth has been around for 4.54bn years. Your life is just 0.000001% of that. And that’s only the life of the Earth so far... Your timescale pales into insignificance alongside pretty much everything else in the universe. Tortoises live longer than you, and they can’t drive or use Facebook or anything.
3) No-one really gives a shit what you do. I mean, some do, obviously – your parents don’t want you to be a murderer, your kids don't want you to be an arsehole, your neighbours would prefer it if you didn’t use their letterbox as a latrine. But in the grand scheme of things, living an unremarkable life is not something that will resonate through history – you’ll just be filed away alongside all the other no-name drones who didn’t get around to inventing handy gadgets, being amazing at maths, learning to kick a football really well, or whatever else it takes to be remembered.
So, with your parameters grimly reset, here are some things that you might as well do with your life. Because, well, fuck it.

Spend ages doing something ‘pointless’
The world is full of people who have devoted significant periods of time to projects that, on the face of them, seem ridiculous or pointless to other people. A story emerged recently of somebody digging through some personal archives and finding a maze that had been drawn by their father. It was a hideously complex maze, all hand-drawn onto paper, and had taken seven years to complete. Now, most people’s initial reaction to that would be ‘Seven years? What a waste of time!’. But why should that be the case? Isn’t everything a waste of time? If that person wanted to spend all of their free time sketching a maze, that’s their lookout. If they’d instead spent those seven years watching The Wire and making wry observations about it on Twitter, would that be any more worthwhile?
Or how about the guy I saw on TV recently who had a knackered old VW Beetle in his garage? It was on a reality TV show in which people with tired classic cars have them spirited away without their knowledge, thanks to their relatives calling the show, and have them returned totally restored, much to their surprise and delight. But anyway, this car had been sitting in his garage for years. Years. He estimated he’d spent about £10,000 on repairs to it by that point, and couldn’t even count up the amount of time he’d spent working on it. Ignore the fact that it was hauled out by a TV company and rescued, as there are a lot of people in the dead-project-car situation – is that outlay of time and expense pointless, given that they still end up with a broken, unusable car that has needlessly sapped all of their spare cash? No, of course not. He wanted to do that, so he did it. He wasn’t hurting anyone. Leave him alone.

Stop looking after yourself
There’s a lot to be said for a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. And some people like to organise their life in that clean-living, self-preserving manner. But some people just can’t get on with it. If you’re not enjoying it, you’re condemning yourself to a masochistic life of torture and misery. Going to the gym, I imagine, feels like hard work. (I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been to a gym in my life. Shows, doesn’t it?) And if that hard work is what you need to achieve the fitness goals you’ve set yourself to make your day complete, then good for you. But if you dread going to the gym, hate every painful minute of being there, and feel like shit afterwards, then it really isn’t for you is it? Instead, why not just go to the pub, order a refreshing drink, and have a conversation that doesn’t have to be conducted while both parties are sweating profusely?
Ditto diet. Yes, it makes sense to try and get your five-a-day (or, if you can’t be arsed, try it the Polish way – apparently their health ministry only advises three-a-day, that’s much easier), not to cram too many chips into your gullet, and to take it easy when the pudding trolley rolls up. Nobody wants to be a laughable fatty, you’ll get ridiculed by schoolkids and you won’t be able to buy any nice clothes. But at the same time, you only get to live for a comparatively short period of time. Roll the dice, fella. If eating cholesterol and carbs knocks a year off your life, who cares – what can you do at that age anyway? It’s Friday night, you’ve had a hard week, you don’t have to eat grilled fish and a sensible little salad for dinner. Order a fucking Chinese, live a little.

Don’t buy a house
Christ, I hate homeowners. Smug twats. ‘Ooh, look at me, I was sensible with my money when I was young, now I’ve got a mortgage’. Oh, do piss off. You were a boring ponce when you were young, and no-one cares about your house. You’ve never done anything. You haven’t lived.
I mean, yes, there may be a chance that this bilious outburst has some grounding in the fact that my age begins with a three and I’m still carrying a phenomenal and insurmountable quantity of the debt of youth, and thus will probably never be able to afford to scrape together even the tiniest percentage of a deposit for a house. But sod it. Why are we so hung up on home-ownership anyway? It’s only because Britons are so culturally enthused by the ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’ crap that it seems important. Look at the ratio of homeowners vs. tenants in the UK against, say, Germany, and you’ll see that it’s entirely off kilter. As long as you’ve got a roof over your head, does it really matter all that much if you own it or not? Instead of scrimping and saving and forcing yourself and your family to go without in the name of putting a deposit on a property that’s far smaller than the place you’re currently renting, why not just spend it on having some fun?
(Yes, obviously I really want to buy a house. But it’s not going to happen. So all of you homeowners can sod off.)

Buy that fun car you’ve got your eye on
Seriously, life’s too short to drive a dull car. I speak with some authority on this matter. I may never have been able to afford a brand new car (indeed, the most I’ve ever spent on a car was £2000, and that involved going halves with my wife), but I’ve had thirty-five cars or thereabouts, and thoroughly enjoyed most of them. I’ve had four 205 GTIs, three Capris, three XR3s, two 19 16v Chamades, two Fiat Coupe Turbos, a BMW 2002, a mkII Cortina, an XR4i, an RS2000, a Scirocco, and various others, and I’ve enjoyed every one. (Don’t mention the XR2i or the 328i Sport though, they were shit. Win some, lose some.) There’s a whole world of memories tied up in that rich and diverse line-up. It put me in a shit-ton of debt, but I have few regrets.
When you’re elderly and decrepit, there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll look back on your salad days and think ‘mmm, I’m really glad I bought that diesel Vectra. The mpg figure was impressive compared to its peers, and the finance rate really was rather reasonable.’ No, you’ll think ‘I wish I’d fucking bought that GT500 Mustang, that would have been a right laugh.’ And then you’ll die unfulfilled, a Vectra owner.

Do that Russian walking-on-cranes thing

If YouTube is any kind of gauge, the Russians just don’t want to live. The internet is crammed to bursting point with videos of young Russians confidently strolling along cranes that are half a mile up in the air, with no safety equipment, and seemingly no interest in whether they make it back down to the ground the way they came up or the quicker, messier way.
There’s a lot of them doing it. There must be a reason for it. Why not climb up your nearest crane and find out?

Do absolutely nothing
I mean, why not? You’re under no obligation to write Bible II: The Revenge of Christ or devise a handy, portable system for nuclear fission on-the-go. Why not just curl up on the sofa with your wife/husband/cat/laptop/whatever, crack open a beer and watch The Big Bang Theory or something? You’re allowed to, you know. It’s fine. If that’s what you want to do with your life, do it. No-one’s going to look back on that snapshot of your life in a hundred years’ time and say ‘boy, were they missing a trick there’. And if they do, fuck it – you’ll be dead anyway.

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