a man I don’t want to be

It is depressing.

The first snow. I realize how cold and long this winter will be. It’s been five months and two weeks since I lost my job. I tried a bunch of things to make a living, but none of them put me a single dollar in my pocket. It’s discouraging.

I lost respect to my friend Jeremy – the photographer I met in Banff. We met in a downtown cafe where he was working on his photo project. Driving from town to town, he took photos of the local murals. His plan was to stack all pictures in one large collage and try to cell it to the local government agencies like town halls and airports. He envisioned his work to be printed on the large scale as a representation of the local art. If the plan worked out and people started buying his art – he would make a living out of it. “Nobody else has done anything like this before” – he said. He thought that this job would perfectly match his lifestyle, where he travels on his terms, while also making money. Once saved up enough, he would buy a campervan and continue his travels in comfort and style. That would be a huge jump for him, considering that he spent the last two months living out of his old toyota yaris. Blue colour, tiny car, with different sets of rims has his home on wheels. I was always amazed how he managed to live there with his large dog for so long. He said he liked it.

The time had passed and we both settled down in Kelowna, British Columbia. We both were tired from traveling and needed a place where we could focus on our projects. I remember how determined and excited he was when we just came in. “I will work day and night to get this project done”, he said. “I will sell it and then move on to another, in a different city”. He seemed that he knew exactly what he was doing and I believed him.

We rented out the same office space in a coworking facility. One morning, when I came in, I caught him sleeping in his sleeping bag right on the bench. His dog was barking. This made me angry because if caught, he would get us both in trouble. I really liked my office space and didn’t want to lose it. Couldn’t hide my frustration, we had an uncomfortable conversation the same morning. 

A few days went by and I asked how his project was coming out. I wanted to see that great art work that he spent so much time on. “…it’s not that great”, he replied. He said that he didn’t really like it anymore and wasn’t sure if anyone would buy it. “How do you know? Have you tried reaching out to people?”, I asked. Negative. “Have you finished building your website?” – negative. In fact, I noticed that all he was doing on his computer is playing online games. 

Few days later he said that he will be going back home to Montreal in a few weeks. He might go back to school to study asian culture. Or he might continue working as a physiotherapist. Or he… had no idea what he would do. “I will buy myself the latest PlayStation”, he said. I worked hard, but it didn’t workout the way I wanted. He also bought a gym membership and said that he will start going there on a regular basis. “I need to get in shape”, he said, but never did go. I was really disappointed in my friend… 42 years old, no kids, no relationships, no assets or savings. The man lives day by day without giving much thought about the future. Today he is excited about his photo project, tomorrow he applies to school to study the Asian culture. “Where will you get the money for school?”, I asked. “I’ll take a student loan”, he replied casually. 

Trying not to judge, but I was really disappointed to learn more about him. Back in Banff, he seemed like an interesting man. We had deep spiritual conversations. He seemed like an intelligent person with a lot of life experience. Being inconsistent in his pursuits, he rarely finished anything. There was a part of him in me. I was looking in a mirror of who I could become in the future if I was doing only the things that excite me. Once the excitement is over – move to another thing. Play video games and burn the days. “Life was meant to be enjoyed”, he said. “Experiences – is what really matters”, he said. I agree, but I also feel that there is something missing. I don’t want to live like that – like an addict in search for the next dopamine spike, jumping from one idea to another. I don’t want to find myself at the age of 40 without having done anything that I could be proud of. If not a family, I want to have at least one person who truly cares about me. I want to keep my promises and do as I say I will. I want to be a man who lives his life strategically and not being bounced around as a leaf on a tree. I want to be a man, who decides what to do and executed until the work is done. 

Days are passing by, Jeremy is playing his games. A grown man, with no purpose or goal in life. An example of a person who lives by the flow. He follows the current of life without making any effort to change direction. An example of a man I don’t want to be.