Once in a Lifetime

It was 3am, and the outside temperature was hovering just above -10°C. For the 100000000000th time since we woke up to catch our 15-hour bus ride out of Ushuaia, I found myself asking Jo… “WHY THE HELL ARE WE DOING THIS AGAIN???”

We were heading for El Calafate, and we had a choice between taking the Infernal-Bus-Journey-with-the-Ridiculous-Border-Crossing AGAIN or we could take a two-hour flight (at a more humane time) that would not even require us to go through international customs.

The obvious answer to my rhetorical question is… “Because we are cheapskates”.

It’s easy to convince ourselves we are doing the right thing when we see how much we’ve stretched our travelling cash by taking the “stupider” option, but there is always a part of me that is nagging… “You are on a Once-in-a-Lifetime trip around the world, why are you pinching pennies??”

“Once in a Lifetime”…. it is a phrase I’ve come to hate since the hordes of flyer-waving bridal studios sales staff swarmed us with over-inflated wedding packages when we were planning our wedding all those years ago. #anotherstoryforanotherday

On some level, I do understand that this is probably the only time in my life that I will be travelling like this, (probably) the only time I was going to get married. I would also only be celebrating my 18, 21, 30, 40, (insert-other-culturally-significant-age-here) birthday once. 

However, I also believe that every moment is an opportunity for us to do something that we will only do Once In Our Lifetime.

For example, I only got to write this because I am going to be stuck in a hellishly long bus ride to El Calafate for the only time in my life, just as you choose to read this (and I hope you are) for the only time in your life. (It’s ok if this is not the first time you are reading this… I don’t judge…)

I guess my point is.. outside of the “significant” birthdays, you are only going to be XX years, XX months, XX days, XX hours and XX minutes old once in this lifetime. I think it is easy to lose sight of how precious every moment is if you only focus on those supposed once-in-a-lifetime “milestones”.

At the end of the day, it is a personal choice to make any moment your personal milestone.

For us, we chose to travel. We think it is the lazy man’s way of making almost every waking moment a milestone (without trying exceptionally hard).

But I guess a milestone could be as simple as deciding to spend more time with the people that matter, or as difficult as saying “sorry” because it is stupid to spend time being resentful and angry. It could mean telling someone how much they mean to you. It could also mean standing up for yourself and finally saying “no” to unnecessary drama in your life. Or saying “fuck it” to the opinions of random strangers and just boogie to that catchy tune coming through your earphones right now.

You can choose to be happy, or you can choose to sulk and make every moment as mundane as possible. Truth is, no matter what moment it is, you are almost certainly never, ever going to get it back. Every moment occurs only once in your lifetime.

That is why… after this rant, I think I am going to get immersed in a world with two moons, secret Japanese cults and beautiful assassins in Murakami’s incomprehensible 1000 page monster “1Q84”.

Why? Because I can.

Also… because I think both Jo and I are secretly at least a little masochistic. (Jo had decided to take on the challenge to sleep through the whole bus ride)

Why else would we choose to spend 15 hours in a bus?

You Got To Take The Shot!

I was gonna start this post with “Recently, I was playing FIFA on my PS3”, but Jo, in her infinite wisdom says that AT LEAST half of you would read that line and close the browser window immediately. Also, “Recently, I was playing FIFA on my PS3” would probably not be the best line to start my first post of 2013 with (now the first line of 2013 that I am writing in this blog has “Jo, in her infinite wisdom” in it. Go figure…).

Anyway, trust me, there is a point to this story.

So…

Recently, I was playing FIFA on my PS3.

I was using the best team in the game (Barcelona) with (arguably) the best player in this part of reality (Messi). I was playing against the AI-controlled Norwich City (yeah, I cheat, so what?) and I was dominating the game so much I was able to try to play the “beautiful game”. I passed the ball around.. OK, actually, I passed the ball to Messi every time I could and tried to razzle and dazzle my way near the goal area to take my shot. You should have seen it. It was beautiful!

Yet somehow, throughout the game, I never managed to get my shots off. I would get tackled just as I was preparing to shoot, or, more often than not, I would dribble past the touch line for a goal kick to Norwich. I was waiting for a perfect chance.. for all the factors to line up perfectly before making an attempt at goal.

Norwich, on the other hand, took pot shots whenever they could and by the end of the game, they had 15 shots at goal and 2 goals. My Barcelona, on the other hand had a 75% possession rate and ermm.. 1 goal from 1 shot at goal (I have to emphasize that it was a shot where everything fitted together – where, I swear, I could hear choirs sing and see angels dance, a moment in time when the Universe seemed magically aligned)

And the point of this whole story?

I had an epiphany watching computer-generated Messi’s dejected face on screen.

You GOT TO take the shot!

No matter the circumstances, you GOT TO take the shot.

It is true that sometimes Reality will shift to make everything fall perfectly in place for you to make your move. Most of the time, for most of us, we just gotta take the swing and hope for the best, because at the end of the day, you need to be a bit of a fool (or have Messi on your team) to wait for that perfect moment.

And sometimes that Perfect Moment never comes.

And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it’s Barcelona or Norwich, we all have the same 90 minutes to make our mark. And sometimes, when/if you wait too long, the game would have ended and you would have lost your chance to score forever.

See! A point! And They say video games corrupt the brain…

In that sense, 2012 was an awesome year.

I had the chance to take swing after swing after swing.

See… the key words in that sentence was “had the chance”. I did not succeed in scoring knock outs with every attempt (actually a lot of the punches were what they call in basketball – “nothing but air”), but I’ve never felt more alive. I tried, I failed, I try again. There is something liberating knowing that the world did not end just because I hit a dud.

Life goes on, the world continues spinning, fleas continue to attack dogs.

And that’s it. You brush off the dust, get up and try again. And with every try, you learn a little bit more about yourself. About what you are good at, what you are not. And perhaps, more importantly, about what you like and what you do not.

What I am saying is, Screw Yoda, the worst thing you can possibly do is not to try at all.

So, here’s hoping I get another year of trying and trying and (hopefully) succeeding in some of the tries.