This Is Your Life

Very mild Fight Club spoiler follows.

In April, I took Bill Bryson's A Short History Of Nearly Everything on holiday with me. Big hardback edition. Halfway through the trip, I leant back in a nice hotel chair, opened it up and started reading the Introduction. Page One.

Before reaching the end of Page One, I slammed the book shut. My blood had run cold. And I read no more. Still haven't. In fact, I was so traumatised that it's taken me eight months to write about it here.

Here's why: Bill casually points out that "even a long human life amounts to little more than 650,000 hours."

650,000 hours? Christ. Thanks, Bill. That really doesn't sound like a lot, if you ask me. Especially when you deduct the number of hours you've already had.

Now, gentle reader, I'm not trying to depress you as the weekend kicks in. No, quite the opposite. As much as drifting along, thinking life's going to stretch on forever, is a beautiful and indeed essential kind of complacency, sometimes it's good to remember that Fight Club quote: "This is your life... and it's ending one minute at a time."

That whole ethos is one of the reasons why Fight Club's one of my favourite films/books. Who can forget Raymond K Hessel, the petrol station worker who gets dragged out back and held at gunpoint, then walks away with a new appreciation for life? Tomorrow's breakfast will be the greatest breakfast he ever had. Sometimes I think most of us could do with being held at gunpoint by Tyler Durden, to drum some self-awareness into us.

So this weekend, why not do something you've never done before, or had been putting off? Unless it's murder, or setting fire to my flat, seize the moment. Where, in a very real sense, is the harm?

11 comments:

James Moran said...

Yes! I will seize the moment, and murder you by setting fire to your flat.

Jay said...

Could you not try flattening his Moments and setting fire to his seas?

Tom Murphy said...

I always lurch into morbidity every time I see the last bit of water swirl out of the plughole in our bathroom sink - it always seems to be a very graphic metaphor for how time will eventually run out for all of us...

Jason Arnopp said...

Moran: Shit. And/or. Always write and/or.

Jay: I don't get that reference and feel doubly foolish.

Murphy: Christ, you're worse than me. The blogosphere is full of mind-control at the moment. Piers has got me thinking whether I'm awake or not, every time I walk through a door, and now here's you, forever connecting plugholes to death. Where will it all lead?

Jonny Quest said...

You have settled it for me, I was debating on whether or not to go to a warehouse party tonight (something I have never done) as I my wallet only has enough fuel in it to last at best two weeks and I have three weeks to travel, so the cost of the party was weighing on my mind. But I am now going to throw caution to the wind and party like its very nearly 2009.
Not quite the act of inspiration you had in mind I'm sure but hey it's a start, tomorrow I will shave some monkeys.

Eleanor said...

Oi! Stop controlling my mind and post it back!

MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

maybe many lessons here .. most importantly ... use your time wisely!
peace, mtw

martin said...

Does going to see Magdagascar 2 count as siezing the day and doing something you've never done before?

Jay said...

"Jay: I don't get that reference and feel doubly foolish."

Ah, no reference - just a reconfiguring of words - Seize = Seas - Flats and Flattening... Moments = Chocolaty Goodness : )

Amanda Rose said...

Just so happens I've only recently read Fight Club so it's fresh in my mind... fresh in my mind that I thought 'fucking hell, Raymond K Hessell has NOT been instilled with a new appreciation for life but instead a dreaded fear of all strangers because they just might be a schizophrenic loon about to pull a gun on him.' In my alternate version, RKH goes on to become agorophobic (after moving, natch. After all, Tyler *does* know where he lives).

Yes, I *am* a pessimist. I didn't need Chuck or Bill to point out how short life is... I just need someone to point out what the point is.

Incidently, A Short History of Nearly Everything is a pretty inneresting read. Hours of life left nonewithstanding.

Jonny Quest said...

I just wanted to thank you for the inspiration to take a risk, blow my cash and have a good old party!! I got way too wasted but on the flip side I may also now have a career change, a girl named Sabrina got talking to me at an after party. Turns out she is a model and she asked me 'who do you model for?' I replied with a chuckle 'no-one, I'm a barman to pay the bills and a writer the rest of the time' to which she responded with 'you should model, I will introduce you to my agency'. So sometime this week I will be meeting up to chat to her and then hopefully meeting her agency. So thanks Jason, I may have you to thank for finally being able to get out of barwork!! But I never believe the hype so we'll just see how things go.