Blacking Out


This post was inspired by a conversation I had with a guy I hadn’t seen since high school the other day, which echoed the sentiments expressed to me by quite a few of my clients in the beginning stages of our work together.

As a favor to a friend I was meeting with another guy about getting him a job with the county. Since I’m always on the go, and love dropping into new places, I chose a meet location close to his current residence, seeing as how he did not drive, a small, once booming dive bar that had changed hands years ago and seemingly had become something of a haven for those living a rather depressing existence.

Football played on the three screens in view from my seat at the bar, and aside from the occasional shouted criticism of the players by one of the patrons (who probably had a small wager on the game) the atmosphere was quite devoid of any sounds of life.

The barmaid was quite nice. She struck me as the type that was probably a knockout two decades ago, but who had succumb to the belief of what was “realistic” for her life and taken the attendant beating that it had to dish out, as is the fate of so many.

I checked my watch multiple times and began to wonder if I was being stood up.

Over the years it has seemed that this is a more common occurrence than you would think. I’ve never been able to grasp why a person who was obviously in need of assistance, and who had someone waiting to provide exactly that would flake in such a manner, but such is life.

My waiting in solitude was interrupted by a boisterous call of my name followed immediately by a stiff smack on the back from a weary looking patron who I had just witnessed entering, but who I certainly had not recognized.

Upon further inspection of the man’s face I discerned a note of familiarity, he looked like a guy I knew from high school, though much more weathered and quite a few dozen pounds heavier.

He was adorned in an oversized hockey jersey with a name of a player that no longer had a spot on the Flyers’ roster, a dirty, backwards baseball hat, a pair of faded jeans, and a well-worn pair of sneakers.

He “introduced” himself with the familiar name of the guy whose younger face I had detected traces of in his. They were one and the same. It struck me as remarkable, as it does every time, how much he had seemingly deteriorated since I had last seen him.

The next few minutes were rife with the typical pleasantries exchanged by those in such situations. He asked what I was up to these days, telling me that he’d heard I had done some “big things” since I came home from the Army. I in turn inquired as to what he was doing now, and the resultant intel dump could probably best be described as simply “saddening”.

He told me that he’d gone to college out of school, and had earned a two year degree that secured him a job with a company owned by a friend of the family. The job was supposed to be a temporary position, a “launch pad” of sorts to provide income for him while he determined and pursued what it was that he actually wanted to do as a career.

Fourteen years later, he was still filling a position at the same company, and though he had received a few promotions in the interim, he was largely unsatisfied with his job, and was making only slightly more in salary than he had been as a new hire.

He told me that he had married a girl that he had dated for a few years, and had recently gone through the process of a divorce that she initiated after telling him she wasn’t in love with him any more. They had one child together that he currently had custody of every other weekend, and he told me that between the child support and alimony that he paid, he had little left at the end of the week.

I asked him what he figured had gone wrong with the marriage to which he replied that he was unsure, but that he’d caught her having two “emotional affairs” as he called them, texting and talking to two other guys on Facebook over the last two years, and that they had existed in a practically sexless relationship for some time before that.

I asked him what he wanted to do with his life at this point, what was it that got him fired up, where did he want to be in five years. He told me that he had no idea and that he had difficulty imagining a situation that was ever much of an improvement over his current one, despite the fact that he “of course wanted” to be happy, fulfilled, and financially secure.

What he said to me next is what struck me the most, and what inspired me to write this post.

He downed his second shot of tequila, I’d taken one with him several minutes prior at his insistence, but had turned down this second one. After taking a sip of his Coors light to wash down the harshness of the cheap, faux Mexican swill, he said:

“I don’t know man, it’s like I blacked out years ago and came to and this is where I am. I don’t remember it getting this bad, I don’t remember when I gave up, and I can’t believe that it’s been over sixteen years since we graduated high school”.

Realizing that I had, in fact, been stood up by the other guy who I was supposed to meet, and that I was running late for a Coaching call, I slipped him my business card and told him to contact me this week, that I would help him any way I could.

He responded by laughing and commenting that I was “all kinds of official with my card and everything”.

I gave him the obligatory “bro hug” and headed back to the office.

As I write this, he has yet to contact me to take me up on my offer.

As I indicated before, his sentiments are commonplace amongst new clients of mine. That wasn’t the first time I’d heard that someone felt that they had simply “blacked out” for a period of years, allowing them to pass without producing any significant change in their situation.

Time is a nasty bitch; it ticks away, perpetually depleting your reserves of your most precious asset.

Time doesn’t care about whether or not you’re motivated on a given day, midnight will still come, and will bring with it a transition into the next day.

Time doesn’t care about your good intentions, your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations, it just keeps rolling on with indifference to your happiness or your outright misery.

I bet if you think about a moment in time ten years ago it certainly doesn’t feel as though it was that distant in the past.

Likewise, ten years from now will be here whether you like it or not, whether you’re “ready for it” or not. That moment in time will arrive whether you are financially secure or are buried in more debt.

It will arrive whether you’re having porn quality sex with a beautiful woman (or women) nightly, or if you are sneaking off to the spare bedroom after the wife or girlfriend is asleep to beat off to other guys having porn quality sex on your iPad.

I say this not to be the bringer of doom and gloom, the negative leech of your joy or energy, quite the contrary. I say this because it breaks my heart to think of a person “waking up” after a ten year blackout and realizing that they’ve squandered their irreplaceable time languishing in a self made limbo instead of building themselves into the self made successful man that truly desire to be.

Are you where you thought you would be ten years ago today?

If not, the time to start rectifying the situation is NOW.

I’m challenging you to own your own shit and take a no-BS inventory of your current state of affairs. Determine if you’re living your life, or awaiting a painful wake up down the road, covered in Sharpie drawn dicks, smelling of cheap booze, and regretting your decisions of the night (years) before.

You awake yet?

I hope you’ll commit yourself to never joining the ranks of those who foolishly spend their precious time, and choose instead to become one of the savvy investors of said invaluable asset who truly and completely make the absolute most of their time on this earth and become the most valuable inhabitant of its wondrous boundaries that you are capable of becoming.

The grass really is greener.

JP Out.


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