Take it from a man who has lived, yet not lived: Don’t waste what life you have.
I don’t think the urgency to do what you’ve always wanted to do could be emphasized better than with this letter on Reddit. It’s usually only when we hit a crisis in our lives, or we realize that we have wasted everything, do we see clearly what we should have done. It doesn’t have to be that way of course, but so many of us act like we have time, and we don’t. There is no time to enjoy your family, to go on your dream vacation, to learn a new language or meet the woman of your dreams.
I cringe when I hear people talking about “spare time” or “extra time” because these things don’t exist. All you have is TIME, period, and just a little. It’s passing right now, and all of the days and hours of “spare time” you’ve thrown away without purpose will never come back. If you knew that your wife was going to die of cancer, would you consider any time with her to be spare time? Guess what, terminal illness or not, she is dying, and so are you.
Our time is fleeting at best, and the reality is that every single day you waste on something outside of something meaningful is a day you will never get back, ever, and your days are numbered. If you’re lucky you will live to your life expectancy, but there isn’t even a guarantee of that. Even if you do make it to live as long as humanly possible, if you spent your entire life doing something that wasn’t worth it, what the hell was the point?
Read this letter in it’s entirety, it just may save you from a life not worth living.
-Hi, I my name’s John. I’ve been lurking for a while, but I’ve finally made an account to post this. I need to get my life off my chest. About me. I’m a 46 year old banker and I have been living my whole life the opposite of how I wanted. All my dreams, my passion, gone. In a steady 9-7 job. 6 days a week. For 26 years. I repeatedly chose the safe path for everything, which eventually changed who I was.
Today I found out my wife has been cheating on me for the last 10 years. My son feels nothing for me. I realised I missed my father’s funeral FOR NOTHING. I didn’t complete my novel, travelling the world, helping the homeless. All these things I thought I knew to be a certainty about myself when i was in my late teens and early twenties. If my younger self had met me today, I would have punched myself in the face. I’ll get to how those dreams were crushed soon.
Let’s start with a description of me when I was 20. It seemed only yesterday when I was sure I was going to change the world. People loved me, and I loved people. I was innovative, creative, spontaneous, risk-taking and great with people. I had two dreams. The first, was writing a utopic/dystopic book. The second, was travelling the world and helping the poor and homeless. I had been dating my wife for four years by then. Young love. She loved my spontaneity, my energy, my ability to make people laugh and feel loved. I knew my book was going to change the world. I would show the perspective of the ‘bad’ and the ‘twisted’, showing my viewers that everybody thinks differently, that people never think what the do is wrong. I was 70 pages through when i was 20. I am still 70 pages in, at 46. By 20, I had backpacking around New Zealand and the Phillipines. I planned to do all of Asia, then Europe, then America (I live in Australia by the way). To date, I have only been to New Zealand and the Phillipines.
Now, we get to where it all went wrong. My biggest regrets. I was 20. I was the only child. I needed to be stable. I needed to take that graduate job, which would dictate my whole life. To devote my entire life in a 9-7 job. What was I thinking? How could I live, when the job was my life? After coming home, I would eat dinner, prepare my work for the following day, and sleep at 10pm, to wake up at 6am the following day. God, I can’t remember the last time I’ve made love to my wife.
Yesterday, my wife admitted to cheating on me for the last 10 years. 10 years. That seems like a long time, but i can’t comprehend it. It doesn’t even hurt. She says it’s because I’ve changed. I’m not the person I was. What have I been doing in the last 10 years? Outside of work, I really can’t say anything. Not being a proper husband. Not being ME. Who am I? What happened to me? I didn’t even ask for a divorce, or yell at her, or cry. I felt NOTHING. Now I can feel a tear as I write this. But not because my wife has been cheating on me, but because I am now realising I have been dying inside. What happened to that fun-loving, risk-taking, energetic person that was me, hungering to change the world? I remember being asked on a date by the most popular girl in the school, but declining her for my now-wife. God, I was really popular with the girls in high school. In university/college too. But i stayed loyal. I didn’t explore. I studied everyday.
Remember all that backpacking and book-writing I told you about? That was all in the first few years of college. I worked part-time and splurged all that I had earned. Now, I save every penny. I don’t remember a time I spend anything on anything fun. On anything for myself. What do I even want now?
My father passed ten years ago. I remember getting calls from mom, telling me he was getting sicker and sicker. I was getting busier and busier, on the verge of a big promotion. I kept putting my visit off, hoping in my mind he would hold on. He died, and I got my promotion. I haven’t seen him in 15 years. When he died, I told myself it didn’t matter what I didn’t see him. Being an atheist, I rationalized that being dead, it wouldn’t matter anyway. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Rationalizing everything, making excuses to put things off. Excuses. Procrastination. It all leads to one thing, nothing. I rationalized that financial security was the most important thing. I now know, that it definitely is not. I regret doing nothing with my energy, when I had it. My passions. My youth. I regret letting my job take over my life. I regret being an awful husband, a money-making machine. I regret not finishing my novel, not travelling the world. Not being emotionally there for my son. Being a damn emotionless wallet.
If you’re reading this, and you have a whole life ahead of you, please. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t leave your dreams for later. Relish in your energy, your passions. Don’t stay on the internet with all your spare time (unless your passion needs it). Please, do something with your life while your young. DO NOT settle down at 20. DO NOT forget your friends, your family. Yourself. Do NOT waste your life. Your ambitions. Like I did mine. Do not be like me.
Sorry for the long post, just had to get it out there.
TL:DR I realised I let procrastination and money stop me from pursuing my passions when I was younger, and now I am dead inside, old and tired.
Sincerest of Regards,
By Eddy Baller
Originally posted on Ultimate Man Builder
While i understand and sympathize with John, and I respect him for the humility he has to write this, I still do not see his actions as his wife’s justification for cheating. Its not about the cheating. Its about the deceit. The purposeful decision to lie to the person you committed your life to, and they committed to you. Its a cowardly act of someone not facing up to their problems. She could have divorced before ever cheating, but she chose to hide her actions out of shame (most probably). John is a bigger man then he is giving himself… Read more »
We were both in our early 50s. I was comatosed for 2 years and last year spent physiotherapy to helped me function again. We were both financially independent and held high corporate positions. I travelled to 35 countries before my incident, She said she wants to travel to Europe with her divorcee sister in Autumn. I said ‘good’ … my action will be activated then. She comes home at midnight (Mon-Fri) saying motivating staff …. by clubbing. I just realised I have less than 15 mins of face time with her every day. The weekends I initiated love making, she… Read more »
At 52 & 53, my husband and I decided to quit our jobs, move to the beach, and follow a passion music. We both got New day jobs in our new city, 200 miles from our last home.
We don’t regret one second of it.
We are living the dream. Best decision!! You are NEVER too old to change, follow your dreams, learn something new.
Just DO it!
On the off-chance John is monitoring these comments, here’s what I’d tell him: 1) 46 is not old. It just feels that way because you haven’t been 46 yet. Since you have achieved the wonderful age of 46, I’m certain you have the life skills to handle it. You’ll probably handle being 60 just fine too, especially if you use your 46th, 47th, and 48th years to correct some of the life trends that are making you so unhappy. 2) There is no shame in holding down a steady job so that you and your family can eat. Accept that… Read more »
Damn… i needed this. 35, single, no kids, no tie downs and a desk job when i want to travel and be a photographer. Thanks for the boost. May have changed my life.
Brandon u feel like my doppelganger. 31+, single, cheated and broken up, pursuing PhD for 7 th year without fellowship, when what I’d have loved is be a photographer and travel the jungles of the world, also being a single child in a family with no incomes dosent help either.
You’re not old. I’m 38 and years old and I prefer a guy age 45-55, because like you, that’s when a guy comes to a realization and learns his priorities in life. You’re in the prime of your life, you’re only in the beginning of your real journey. Work it work with your wife and if she can’t give you the love and respect that you deserve, then there’s plenty more fishes in the ocean.
I feel for him, really. I wish him prosperty and success throughout his journey that he will be embarking in his lifespan. We are all here to learn from our experience in life due to whatever circumstances that may be. Our experiences and experiences to be had are of one’s chapters in one’s storyline, or of one’s own story book. And, our creator’s timeframe for he edits our storybook, so we may grow to our full potential. I’ve learned it myself that every chapter has a season, and through it all one must not be bitter, but reach for it’s… Read more »
A very strong and soul scratching article, this seems to be the story of every sensitive man who has been dwelling on dreams. I feel that these fears are going to be my reality, I’m turning 30 and in love with an atheist, different race and religion. Any suggestions how not to fall prey to such fears of future?
I hope he doesn’t accept his wife’s excuse for cheating.
The cheating was not about him changing (making it his fault) it was about her looking outside the marriage for what she wanted instead of putting the energy into her relationship. Did she ever attempt to give him a wake up call? Someone cheating on you is NEVER you’re fault.
I agree 100 percent so tired of the cheaters putting the blame on the one that was loyal and had self respect because if you had self respect you would not cheat on some one that put there life on hold for you . Cheaters are so pathetic they can’t even take the blame for their own actions
Not only that but he needs to get out of that hellhole of a marriage ASAP. Regardless of what it might cost financially. How much is respect worth?
The lead-up to this article would do well, on this site especially, to illustrate the objectifying effects and cultural-reinforcements that coerce men -because of their gender, and our expectations and accepted roles/value signifiers thereattached- to live these kinds of lives. This story is that of the oppression and exploitation of men as a political class. This is not simply “bad choices he made”, any more than a woman’s anorexia and mental health issues are either solely due to, or completely divorced from “bad choices she made”.
Most of the people who inspire me most got a “late” start in life. My favorite author made the plunge of going full time at 42, and that was back in the 60’s. Our life spans have gone up since then. This brave man has LOADS of awesome material to draw from. He could crush it, and do everything he always wanted to do. I wish him joy of it!
You are lucky. Most people don’t have these realizations until they are on their death bed. Sit down with your son, your wife, express what you feel, ask for forgiveness and then start living. Find an organization to whom you can donate time to, that will allow you to travel and help people around the world and finish your book. Or even better, write a new one. Tell us your story. We are listening.
Why the hell should he ask for forgiveness . Because his wife couldn’t keep her legs closed . You know she could have gotten out of the relationship before a man stuck his junk in her and she betrayed him and her family for a sexual inhibition are you crazy for telling him to ask for forgiveness . She could have divorced him set him down and talk to him she didn’t need to go spread her legs . If this would have been a female righting this article you would not have advised her to ask for forgiveness .… Read more »
To all of those people writing saying they missed a funeral, forgive yourselves and let it go. Write a letter or say a prayer, you can have a relationship now of love and forgiveness through the time space continuum. There is only this moment now. That song or scent that comes to you is a sign that you have been heard. Thank you, John. Thank you.
46 is young – in fact- its prime- work it out or stay with your wife- quit your frigging job and get moving- so on a long trip – go where the juice of life is- you have the dough-
you aren’t buried yet-
quick off the top soil and shake it brother
keep us updated- you know you want to
best with it- I hear a live person there
I’m on the board of an organization that consists of 40 non-profits and mission based companies. Our focus is domestic fair trade and sustainable agriculture. It sounds like John has a tremendous amount of money but his soul is dead. These groups are doing fantastic work to end exploitation in agriculture and of course they are always boot strapped for cash. Financial sustainability and expertise are not the strong points of these organizations but passion, conviction and spirit are. If John wants wants to find his soul again he needs to work with people who are fully in their souls.… Read more »
That whole world you demand he empower would be quite unperturbed if he put a bullet in his mouth tomorrow.
Also, a bunch of scientists were quite happy to do everything to convince us that there are no such things as souls, regardless of the consequences, of course.
But thanks for reminding us once again that we’re expected to go down a one way street of eternal parasitism, even while we’re baring our tired, thankless existence to the world.
I agree, John Anderson. The fact that she cheated was 100% her fault and her choice. No one forced her to jump another man. There are a ton of other options she had..including counseling for herself, or for the marriage. To John (the original poster), your life is not over, by any means. You could have another 50 years on this Earth (or more). Get counseling and get help making some positive changes.. so that YOU can be happy!
She was the one who chose to cheat. That’s not on you. If she had issues, she could have asked for marriage counseling or for a divorce or even to talk to her husband about it. Why didn’t she? Because you were her meal ticket and she liked the money.
John, All that you went through, all that you experienced, was not a waste of time. It forged you into the man you are now, the man who’s realizing his own mortality, the man who doesn’t want to waste another moment. You’ve awakened John, and that is a gift! Its a step out of the dead and dull life where you’re coming from. I know many people, including myself, who’s story is very similar to yours. Take this time and live it. Take the steps, baby steps if your scared, and move to the life you want. I work with… Read more »
I totally agree with you about the time, specifically related to those situations like living your dream or finding the woman of your dreams.
Be careful. The whole point of your story is: “Don’t waste your life, because that’s what I did for 45 years”. Now you got plenty of time left, don’t waste it too. Besides a wakeup-call like this is something to be grateful for. Not exactly that you been cheated on, but that you still have the skills (creativity, interest in writing, social skills, etc.) to deal with this situation and make the best of it. Thus your life in one year will be better than your life a year ago. And by seeing it that way the whole “turning point… Read more »
Wow. I kind of woke up in a similar way when my wife left me. Opened my eyes to who I was being. After having children I clung to the safe job and did all things that were safe. Now I’m taking risks again and it feels great.
I feel for this guy. I hope he finds what he’s looking for and realises it’s never to late.
Good luck man 🙂
I know the feeling. It’s taken me two years to change my life around. Turning 50 this year. The worse thing I did was kept asking why. I completely had lost myself too. The best thing was to face what I became and change radically. I have my life going in the right direction now. The state of mind is very different. I pray for gentler days ahead. It was a tough spiritual journey out of oblivion. Don’t give up on yourself. Grab for the oxygen mask for you first. You are smart and you have strength. You will find… Read more »
I’m 24 years old and I already feel this way. I am a single child, my mother died a long time ago, my father left before I was born. Don’t have family, hardly any friends, surviving on my VA disability checks. There is no connection between this world and I. I could slit my own throat at any time and no one on this planet would care. I chose to join the Army to better my life but really I signed my own death warrant of the worst variety- I am stuck with myself and all those awful memories until… Read more »
Hey, fellow 11C here. If you need someone to talk to [email protected]
Have you thought about going back to school? Really, I was where you’re at and found that being around people, as tough as it as first, is beneficial. You realize, yeah, not everyone cares the way you cared about your friends and missions overseas, but that there is certain amount of ambivilance, grace and a touch of ignorance that makes the world go round. Cheer up man. Don’t become a statistic.
I just want to say, I read your comment a few days ago and there are people who care. Fact is I’m still thinking about your comment and hoping you’re okay – so much so I searched this article again. Just like G you’re welcome to contact me. My website is katerinasimms.com and there’s a contact page there that goes straight to me email (I’d post here but spambots love that stuff). If you need someone to talk to I’ll do my best to lend an understanding ear.
Hey mate, how you holding up?
If you need some impartial to chat and get things off your chest, give me a shout.
All the best,
11C : Greetings of Peace. I am an only child. I am glad to see a few people have reached out to you already. Don’t hesitate or be embarrassed to drop them a line. We are all pretty ignorant of the plight of others living nearby. It is the way of the world. We are all isolated from each other. Educate us. Talk to me : [email protected]
I expect that you will drop me a note. I do not feel comfortable leaving my cell number on such a public forum.
American men are forced to be slaves to their jobs thanks to rich people and corporations have virtually takeover their lives for the last 35 years and depriving men to spend time with themselves and their families.
He lives in Australia.
Depriving them of their family? What family? Son that doesn’t give a shit, wife that fucks around on him, for what crime? I started taking risks, I opened up to my sister, she said she wanted me to come live with her. Made long term plans and everything, I still have the texts. A year and a half later she did what biological systems do when threatened with evolutionary drag, she convinced herself that she didn’t mean anything more then a visit. Haven’t heard from her since. I reached out on Facebook to the only girl who was ever proactively… Read more »
Maybe more people would want to interact with you if you weren’t such a cynic.
@James: I really empathise what you said. =================== 1) Women have option to have career or not have the career, after marraige. If wife wants to have career , and husband does not let her; then he is bad husband. If wife does not want to have the career, and husband wants her to do it, then is forcing and cruel. But man has to have the career, he has no choice. #Women have advantage here. =================== 2) Now, if woman finally chooses to be at home with children, then her housewife job itself allows her to connect to children.… Read more »
john you’re 46 so you have time to change things, I’m 14 years older, turning 60 tomorrow and your letter reads like my life story. Please get living while you can! A life full of regret is no life at all.