There I flew through the time stream, gliding past colours known and unknown, journeying back ten years until I popped out and landed on something soft. It was a bed; it was my bed at one point in time. A bedroom that stunk of old cigarettes and too many late nights. I recognised the littering of DVDs, empty beer bottles, and that ‘For Sale’ sign that I’d been using as a noticeboard. It only had the one piece of paper press-studded into it — a birthday card that said ‘Happy 20th!’
So do me a favour, imagine I looked upon my 20-year-old self, just waking up, groggy from a heavy night of drinking. Imagine I spoke to him. Imagine what I said…
Hello, Luke. Don’t get up. Listen for a second. Here are some life lessons. From me to you… who is also me.
1.) Lose the vices.
It’s around this time in your life that you’re doing a lot of drinking and smoking. You’re spending many a night frequenting pubs and clubs and have gotten yourself into many an odd scenario. I remember the time we woke up at 4am in the middle of that park, the time we shared a beer with that racist homeless guy, and that joint we smoked that time. Remember how we couldn’t move our legs for hours?
Well, as fun all that was, it’s time to get it under control. I’m more than happy for you to go and experience life but you need moderation. You need to be able to say no. This is true not just for booze but for anything. For some this is their gym membership. For others, it’s maxing out their credit cards on new clothes. For some it’s sex. But for most young Brits fresh out of their parents’ houses, it’s the booze.
I know you’re feeling lonely and disenfranchised. I know you drink because you don’t think there’s not much else for you. You see the world through the bottom of your pint glass, already eyeing up the next drink before you finish the first. Do you still call yourself an escape artist, always looking to escape reality, escape clear thought? I think maybe you do.
You’ve had some great times, sure, but you’ll wish you stopped sooner. Trust me. You’ll wish you reengaged with the world. You’ll wish you started laying down some goals, put down the booze and went and made something. You’ll feel all the better for it. Trust me.
2.) Don’t resist change.
When I look back and think about the truly sad points in your life/our life, I see one common factor — change. And it’s not the change itself that causes the pain but your unwillingness to accept it. Your resistance.
In some languages, resistance is considered an emotion. As fundamental to our experience as being happy or sad or angry. Those emotions get handy little emoticons or get characterised in Pixar movies but resistance doesn’t, so we often forget it’s even there. It’s that shrinking, weighty feeling you get when your life feels outside of your control. We fall into it when we find a comfort zone comes under threat, like when your hot bubble bath is all dead and tepid and you don’t quite want to get out so you lay there in your own soup, growing wrinkly and uncomfortable, wasting your time.
Change will hurt you again and again until you learn to accept it, to roll with it. You have to get older. You have to learn to accept responsibility. You have to grow. You have to say goodbye every now and again. You have to move house once in a while. You have to get out of the fucking bath.
3.) A body in motion tends to stay in motion.
When I look at you, Luke. I see a guy who has ambitions but isn’t moving towards them. I see that you’re frustrated. You want to have written without doing the writing. You want to have made the film without doing the making, have done the thing without the doing. Eventually, you will realise that it’s only when we verb, that we noun.
Learn that sooner than later. Learn it today. It’s difficult at first, sure, but once you get moving, build some habits, some routines, you’ll find things happening somewhat on their own. Like you simply programmed in the configuration and the machine did the rest of the work. Get that body in motion and it will take you the rest of the way.
Also, I mean you should really get your actual body in motion, too. You might look nice and skinny now, but your metabolism is on its last legs. You might want to think about getting into an exercise routine before you put on those extra two stone because believe me, they ain’t going anywhere on their own.