He said he wants to make his mark on the world. Said he’s afraid he’s running out of time. “You have to do that shit before you’re 35 or it’s not going to happen.”
The number used to be lower. It was 30 when we were 25, it was 25 when we were 20. It keeps moving, but I wonder if we do. I told him I’m not so worried about the world. I want to make a mark on myself. I want to look at my life and know I did something that matters to me. No longer satisfied with the idea of just staying alive. I want to build something.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to master an art. Focused dedication is the only skill you need to get things going. You’re not born great. You make greatness. It’s not a secret. It’s not rocket science or dumb luck. But I wonder what I’ve spent 10,000 hours doing. That’s only five years. Monday through Friday. Nine to five. Two weeks off for vacation. What have I done for that long?
I spent almost 12,000 hours smoking cigarettes before I quit. Spent well over that getting drunk before I got sober. I’ve definitely spent longer telling myself I’m worthless. My existence is completely inconsequential to everyone around me. I turned harmful habits into crafts. Then I accidentally mastered them. If doubting myself were tangible—a painting, a novel, a new technology—people would revere me in my field.
Is that what we want to spend our time doing?
I act as if this time won’t go by until I choose something. Act as if I’m not always honing skills. Like things in my life only happen when I make a choice and conscious effort. I ignore the fact I’m invariably creating. Making the decision to construct houses I don’t want to live in. It’s never been hard to get good at something. The challenge has always been avoiding getting good at the wrong things.