Live an interesting life - get arrested!

On Friday before my "Writing for the Internet" class had started, I was talking to the other three people with whom I share a table.  The conversation had started in the hallway; just me about my time in the Army, which eventually lead to a drinking incident that occurred when I was 20-years-old.

The story goes as such:

A group of my friends and I went to a house party in June of 2003.  We were all underage and, even though we thought we were being "responsible" by having a designated driver, the party ended up getting out of control and the police were called on a noise complaint.  Busted!  I was well passed any form of sobriety and was subsequently handcuffed, more for my safety than anything else (and probably for the officer's, too).  I ended the evening at the pleasant time of 2:30AM in the parking lot of the police station with my parents, waiting my turn to be booked by the police, before being released.  The kicker was that I had to be at the Pittsburgh International Airport at 6AM for a flight to Germany, where I'd be working for the next three weeks as part of my duties with the Army Reserve.  Oh, the hangover was glorious!

So, after I was done telling this story, I made the statement:
     "Drinking's exciting when it's illegal but once you hit 21, it loses it's appeal pretty fast."
     "I've never drank before." reply one of my classmates.
     "Really?  Wait, so how old are you?" I asked.
     "18.  How old are you?" she asked.
     "Oh, that's why you're interesting."
Now, to say that the statement caught me off guard would probably be an understatement but not for the reason you'd probably think.  And this leads me (FINALLY!) to the main topic of my blog posting: Are you living an interesting life?

I know that when I'm going about my day-to-day, I look at what I have done or in the process of doing something and think that there must be something more exciting I could be doing.  So to have a someone that doesn't know a whole lot about me, other than the story I just told them, say that I'm interesting is pretty cool.  It really makes you look back at what you've done and where you've been and say "Wow, that was really exciting when I...".  And looking back, I've done a lot of stuff in my 27 years on this globe and without feeling the need to jam it all into one day.  I've been a movie extra in a Jake Gyllenhall and Anne Hathaway movie (oh yeah, I'm name droppin'), I've put out two albums with my first band and working on another one with my current band, been to several different countries and interacted with many people from many walks of life.  And yet I still am just as content with spending a lazy day at home, sitting on the couch, watching a "House" marathon, knowing full well that it's a beautiful day outside but choosing to thumb my nose at it for the creature comforts of the good old A/C.

Too often, we get force fed this idea of Carpe Diem ("Seize the day" in latin - thank you "Dead Poet Society") or "Live like this is the last day of your life" or some other nonsensical notion.  But how many times can you say you've really done that?  Moreover, do you REALLY want to live like that?  "But DJ, I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.  I could be gone and never do all the things I wanted" and yes, that's true (though I hope that's not the case).

I mean, it's a great notion; taking control of your life and doing what makes you happy.  But when you live like you've got nothing left to lose every minute of every waking hour, you miss out on the smaller and subtle things in life because you're trying to pack a lifetime into a fleeting moment.  You don't notice the details like the sun beating on the back of your neck after you've finished mowing the grass on a hot, summer afternoon or the way her hair covers her eyes and her nose scrunches up as she giggles, embarrassed for you because you tripped over your own feet while walking at the mall.  Many of the "big" moments in my life revolve around the finer details of what has transpired, more so than the large, sweeping, brush strokes.

It's all about finding a balance.  Too much of "I-have-to-do-everything-today" or the other extreme of "I'm-going-to-sit-on-my-ass-all-day-and-relax" is a bad way to live.  You lose out on something because you don't allow yourself to experience the other end of the spectrum.

Now, let me state that I've done plenty of dumb stuff too (for example, see above).  But I don't have one regret about any time I've gotten myself in over my head because those moments are just as interesting (AGAIN, see above).  Good or bad, up or down, everything that's happened to me is the best possible thing that could have happened to me, so it's all been gravy.

And, please.  I don't want anyone walking away from this with the idea that I condone underage drinking or that I'm encouraging acts of illegality, because I'm not.  I'm not saying change your moral center.  If you think you're parents or people you respect or if you think you are going to be disappointed in what you're about to do, maybe you should take a step back and rethink the situation.  This isn't a "live-hard-die-young" rant.

So make sure that when you wake up in the morning and before your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, you can say that you lived an interesting day because they build into your interesting life.  Make sure you appreciate the dull days just as much as you appreciate the dynamic.  The interesting moments tend to find you, sometime whether you want them or not.  So don't live like you were dying.  Just live.

Now that you've read my two cents on the subject (and my disclaimer), I want to hear yours.  After reading this, ask yourself - what have you done that was "interesting" in the past week?  How about the past month?  What about six months?  If you have something, please share.  If not, read some of the comments and hopefully something moves you and you find yourself on your own path to an interesting story.

-Respectfully, DJ


Wow DJ, this is very thought provoking.

I have to admit that I frequently do the "sit on my ass all day and relax" thing. It doesn't take much to make me happy. Even if I buy a book it makes my day. As someone once quoted, perception is reality.

But as for interesting things I've done... Over the summer I went to three concerts: Styx (featuring Kansas and Foreigner) Weird Al, and Iron Maiden. I enjoyed all three, especially Iron Maiden since they're one of the greats.

I love that you say to notice the subtle things in life! That is what I've dedicated my blog to. But it's the subtle things that are worth appreciating and that make people happy.

That whole 'live like you were dying' thing always bothered me. I don't want to live like I'm dying because I don't want to be dying. I want to live like I'm alive. Someone once told me that as long as he was alive, he wanted to live. I like that perspective much better!

Besides, as Henry David Thoreau said, "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live."

This summer a friend of mine, stationed in Japan, had to be at the Johnstown Airport at 6:30 a.m. for the first leg of his journey back to Japan. What brought him back home from across the world was the death of his first cousin. His cousin, and our mutual friend, was killed taking the carpe diem mentality to the extreme. It's impossible to live like you're dying because in truth we are all dying. Everyday we add stress and lose time, but I love your post. I'm twenty-two and a freshman, I don't have your age's wisdom, but I do have my own strikingly similar experiences and I bet we could have a hell of a debate on the appreciation of life and lifestyles. Anyway, arriving at an airport at dawn, hungover as all hell from the previous sleepless Long Island ice tea night, freshly inked for a fallen brother's memory, and watching an American hero fly into the sunrise; these, I feel, are truly the small glories that life possesses. Our group lived that night all we had to do were decide what tattoos were appropriate, and then run around a bar like we hadn't a care in the world. Forget death and every ill-gotten motto aiming to spur content individuals to self-loathing, live life you deem worthy. Interesting, I recently took a walk at dusk and had three people holler my name and wave out car windows... that was enough for me to say I had an interesting and worthwhile evening.

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    This page contains a single entry by DJ Beckage published on September 11, 2010 11:15 AM.

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