Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Life List

Recently, and over this past weekend especially, I have been thinking a lot about The Life List, that list you're supposed to make of things that you want to achieve in your life, so you have something to motivate you a little out of your daily grind and comfort zones, in order to die feeling that you've achieved some things that were worthwhile...

...yeah, right, well, anyway, I've been thinking about that list. I've never started one, I just occasionally think of things that should be on the list (and then promptly forget them). I guess I don't want to disappoint myself by not managing to accomplish many of the tasks on the list, so if I don't have a list, there's nothing to be disappointed about. I've thought about perhaps just putting together a top-10 or top-20 list of the most important things, but what is important? How do I rank them? They're all important. And what if I decide 10 years from now that half of them aren't that important because I've thought of better ones since? Do I make a new list? Do I have a A list and a B list?

Lately, however, I've been feeling motivated to make it a little more concrete. Forget the top whatever, forget important, just put down everything that should be there, and then do my best to achieve as much as possible.

I haven't actually done this yet, but at least I'm getting closer. At the moment the only things I can think of to put on the list seem silly, besides "Set foot on every continent" (currently I'm two down with five to go. Antarctica's going to be the tough one, but at least I live nearby), and "Learn French".

None of these items that I could think of are immediately, or easily, achievable, except for one: I realised on Sunday night that for the past year I've been toying with the idea that I should try to take the stairs from the ground floor of my office building to the 20th floor at least once while I work here, and that I could actually achieve that within the week if I set my mind to it. Scratch one off the list right away!

So yesterday morning I took the plunge.

I started off at a good pace, two stairs at a time, because the stairs are the stupid size found all over South Africa in which one stair is too little and two are too many, but going two at a time a little awkwardly is still more preferable than stumbling up one at a time.

I started slowing a little by the 2nd floor, but I knew that would happen. No worries.

By the 3rd floor I was feeling the burn (which I assumed was a good thing, although it didn't feel like it).

By the 5th floor I was really feeling the burn.

By the 7th floor I had long before switched to one step at a time instead of two.

By the 10th floor I was feeling incredibly awful, but I continued on with insane determination that appeared rather magically, shuffling up one tiny step at a time, until it was just a continuous hell of step after step after step.

By the 15th floor I was pretty sure I was dying, but I figured it would be stupid to quit after having come so far. After all, with only five floors to go, how much worse could I possibly feel than how I was already feeling? (The answer to that, by the way, is not much.)

The last few floors were easier (mentally), although as I rounded the corner to the 20th floor I met up with a co-worker who wanted to know what on earth I was doing. I could barely speak (because I could barely breathe), but managed to explain as I got to the door to our floor, and then hit the stop button on my watch's stopwatch with a sense of great accomplishment. 4:57. Not bad. I figured it would take much longer, so that made me feel slightly better. If I'd used the lifts as I normally do I figured it probably would have taken me longer, as you usually have to wait forever on the ground floor to get one (even the floors 11 to 22 "express" elevators), and then the lift starts and stops continuously while people get on and off.

I stumbled down the corridor to my office, breathing heavily as I instinctively tried to suck every possible oxygen molecule out of the air, heart pounding in my chest, and mumbled my accomplishment to one of my colleagues in my office (who looked at me in a combination of amazement and "WTF?") as I collapsed on the floor behind my desk for five minutes and tried not to pass out.

At least, when I eventually do write down my list, I can - satisfyingly - start it like so:

Take the stairs to the 20th floor. [26/09/2005]

Of course, I will then immediately have to add this to the list:

Take the stairs to the 20th floor, in under 3:30.

(It's going to be a long list.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Reminder That All Is Not Right With The World

I realised a few days ago that I haven't posted to my blog in a while. This is largely because I haven't had much to say, and I refuse to post just because it's there. I believe in quality over quantity. For the last month my thoughts have primarily been consumed with Astro Wars strategising, and tweaking the design for brainwavez.org (mainly CSS/browser compatibility issues, which have been driving me crazy). I am thinking about making the site live soon, and ironing out the bugs later (sorry IE6 PC people), as I'm tired of it being an unfinished project.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not) the latest Astro Wars game ended today, and I found myself arbing[*] around Blogger/Blogspot looking at random blogs. Usually it ends up being a huge waste of time viewing endless rubbish, but the occasional gem can make it worthwhile.

Today I found this post. The picture, taken by Larry Burrows in the 60s, says it all. I think it is one of the most amazing photographs that I have ever seen. The post led me to the work of Michael Yon, and independent observer/journalist in Iraq who has been following American soldiers on raids and writing about his personal experiences of the conflict in Iraq. Whether or not you agree with what is happening there, his photographs were a reminder to me that while I sit here comfortably at work hammering out a little bit of text on my computer people all over the world live in great fear and constant danger. There is conflict happening all over right now.

It's almost too much to comprehend.

(Since Blogger broke my template you'll have to access
older/newer posts via the archive links in the sidebar.)