Have you ever had a wake-up call? I’m sure you have. Have you even had several? It wouldn’t surprise me – I know I have.
A wake-up call can be anything, and it can be about anything. A word from your neighbour making you realise that yeah, your lawn looks awful. A picture in a newspaper reminding you of the dream you had back in high school about becoming a firefighter. It might be of a more severe nature. Anything can ring that bell and the bell can be attached to whatever you can or can’t think of.
As I said, I’ve had several. Reminding me what I love doing, making me realise I’ve spent way too little time with my father, reminding me how much my best friend means to me. Some things bigger, something smaller. Sometimes – and I’m sure you all know this one – a wake-up call comes too late. We see it on a global scale way too often, but I’m going to bring it down on a personal level for now. You see, the fifth of this month marked two years since I lost my father. Two years since my mother and brother showed up unannounced outside my dorm on a Saturday morning, their faces ashen and their general appearance first surprising me and then making me worried once I saw their expressions.
I cried so much that day. I cried for weeks. At twenty years of age, the last thing I expected was to lose my father. Sure, he was seventy years old, but he was the healthiest person I ever knew. His biggest problem was needing reading glasses. He ran, worked out at the gym, had just met a new girlfriend – he was healthy and happy. Now I suddenly had to wrap my head around the idea that he didn’t exist anymore. I will not enter into any religious aspects here, since I am not clear with where I stand in such matters, but suffice it to say that I was lost.
I have always been plagued by my bad memory. So when dad’s girlfriend took me aside and told me that dad knew that I wanted to spend more time with him, it both helped and hurt at the same time. Now, I suppose a brief backstory is in order here. Basically, I lived most of my life with my mother after my parents moved apart when I was about four. A few months prior to dad’s passing, I’d mentioned that we should get together more – both because I wanted to get closer to him and because I felt bad for slipping away for him like I had. To his defense, my father never stopped caring. It was I who stopped sharing, with both my parents. But now I wanted to set things right with dad and I had managed to tell him that. We had plans to hang out during Easter break that year, when the rest of the family was going to Bali (a place I didn’t fancy going to, since I am not a sun person).
Needless to say, plans were changed. To be honest, my recollection of that time is both hazy (because of my bad memory) and clear (because how can such a thing not imprint itself in your mind?). I could write a mile long entry about my dad’s passing and how I’ve dealt with it, but that is not the focus of this entry. My point was to showcase the biggest wake-up call I’ve had to date. Cherish what you have, while you have it – tomorrow isn’t a certainty. Carpe diem – seize the day. You don’t know what you got until you lose it. The clichés are endless.
Tonight, I had another wake-up call. Much less violent, much more positive. After much excited waiting and rising anticipation, I finally got to see The Fighter tonight. I have been looking forward to this movie ever since I first heard of it, on account of my love and admiration for Christian Bale and the fact that the trailer was so intriguing. Mark Wahlberg isn’t wrong either. When it was praised at the Oscars (and Bale finally won his well-deserved golden statue) I was even more excited. Then tonight I killed two birds with one stone and saw The Adjustment Bureau and The Fighter, one after the other. Due to my foot surgery three weeks ago, I can’t walk far and therefore make the most of an evening at the cinema. The Adjustment Bureau was better than I expected – I am not a big fan of Matt Damon – but the reason for this post lies within the second movie of the evening.
The Fighter, if you haven’t seen it, is based on the true story of boxing brothers Dicky Eklund and Micky Ward. Describing and summarising movies ain’t my strong side, but I know what I like and I loved this one. It wasn’t that I recognised myself in anyway, or that the story played out on the screen in anyway resembles my life. It was the feeling that you can do anything you set your mind to. It might not be easy, it might not be fun all the time, but hell… What kinda life is it, if it’s always fun? You tell me that.
It also made me realise that I am in charge. In my life, I am the one who ultimately decides what happens. Sometimes, this involves taking uncomfortable decisions or doing things I don’t want to. You know what I’m talking about. Now, I’ve had a million wake-up calls exactly like this one. Been all ‘hell yeah, time to get up off the ground where I’m sulking and do something with my life!’ I can’t even count the times. Likewise, I can’t count the times these efforts fell flat. The times I ended up not moving an inch from that spot on that proverbial ground, simply going back to what I knew and what was comfortable. Why make a fuss, when it’s so much easier to turn a blind eye and stay right where I am? And oh, how sick I am of it all.
It’s not that I like it where I am now. I am far from what I want to be, from where I want to be. True, I don’t even know exactly what or where that is, but the problem is that I don’t dare to find out either. I’d rather stay on my couch for another day, not attempting to change anything because ‘it’s easier that way’. And yet, I find myself encouraging other people to do the exact things I should do myself. It’s all very hypocritical, but I can be a decent mentor when I hit the right note. I know roughly what to say, in any case.
So how come I don’t apply what I teach to myself? Ah, if I only knew. I’d probably be somewhere completely different, had I done that. But you know what? It’s not too late. It’s virtually never too late. Sure, I might be living with my mom and little brother, working two jobs and spending most of my free time watching movies, writing or sitting by the computer – but that doesn’t mean I can’t change. The Fighter ignited that spark in me again – get up, get out, do something! – that I’ve felt so many times before, maybe even stronger this time. But for me, the strength of this spark means nothing, absolutely nothing, if I let it die out.
I’m not saying I’m turning my life around first thing in the morning. First of all, I still can’t walk – I hobble around at best and walking on crutches for too long takes the breath out of me. I’m pretty unfit, yes. But like all changes, I gotta start small. My mind is my biggest enemy, you ever heard that? Sure you did, and I’m sure you can relate at some level. So I’ll take this time and do what I can to make my mind agree with the rest of me. Work on my willpower (oh boy, that’s a tough one), figure the basic stuff out. Slowly but surely turning gears to in the end hopefully accomplish something. I’m not expecting to be perfect – hell, I might fall right back onto that couch and claim failure – but I know for sure I can do better than this. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll sure try.
Because I am awesome. Y’hear? I am awesome. And so are you.
I’m not a motivational speaker. I’m certainly not a preacher. In fact, I’m a shy, giggly, uncertain twenty-two year old, winging my way through it all. But I’ve got thoughts and the words to put them down, and you know I will. I want to express myself or I do believe my head will explode..!
I draw inspiration from a million things. As far as other human beings go, Christian Bale has a funny influence on me. For good or for bad – it’s both, depending on the situation. I won’t deny that I look to a bunch of actor/musicians for inspiration, because just as creativity, I welcome inspiration from all over. I mentioned Joseph Gordon-Levitt last night, for his overall creativity; I can mention Jeff Bridges, David Bowie, Christopher Walken, Robert Downey Jr. I can also mention my older sister as a person who inspires me. My father. In fact, my father always believed in me. And if he could, seeing as relatively little as he did of me – why can’t I? If nothing else, I owe it to him to believe in myself. And I owe it to myself.
So I think I’ll just go ahead and do it.