I am sitting in my study room with my t-shirt and shorts.
Its dark all around — except in my study room where I am all alone. I have my loyal coffee cup with my cheap all-in-one coffee on the left, I have my iMac straight in front of me and my iPad at the right.
And as I start typing the words “Life is a Phase” I suddenly remember a young man in his early 20's…me.
Those days when waking up in the morning even with 3 separate alarm clocks — positioned at 3 separate corners of the room was still near to impossible to wake up me. And after I did wake up, I would have a shower with the most expensive body wash and over-the-top-fragranced shampoo + conditioner.
Then came the bottles and bottles of perfumes & deodorants. And after that — the endless collection of New Shirts, New Trousers, Belts, Shoes, Accessories and Shoes.
After all, James Bond made sure, he looked the part before he seduced the hottest women to him.
I even made sure the gel on my hair was applied carefully and while I studied each strand while my brush combed through my hair — I was ‘God’s gift to women-kind’, the next Millionaire, the next Billionaire — the next Big thing. And then and only then — I would start my day…..
And today… well today was a big day.
Do you know why?
I was about to make my big purchase!
The first major purchase in months!
My all new Pentium Computer (remember that?).
It wasn’t a 486 or a 512. It was (get ready for this) a Pentium Computer!!
And it wasn’t just ‘another Pentium’. It came with a CD writer — not one but 2 that too at 48x Speed.
I was young, I was ambitious, I was happening.
Those were the days of Windows 98' and the games were as silly as you can imagine — from playing Age of Empires to Unreal Tournament (when it just launched).
My friends were all the 20 year old boys like me who loved the 2G’s — Games & Girls. And we would hang around in all places that had either Games or Girls.
Our agenda for the day was hang out in the stores that sold games, go to gaming cafe’s and play games with each other while hurling insults and profanities as if we were adults (I shudder to think how I used to behave today), we dressed up like the cool boys (whatever Backstreet boys did — we did) and we we were ultra cool so to speak.
We would walk in shopping malls with our jeans, over-sized T-shirts, caps on our heads backwards (because we were cool) and we would also look and feel macho whenever we would pass by the ‘hot’ girls.
And yeah — the coolest of the cool amongst us was the guy with the fastest PC, the best keyboard and the most expensive mouse.
Then I grew up…..And moved into my 30’s.
When I was in my 30’s — those were the bodybuilding days
During my bodybuilding days, I hung around bodybuilders and power-lifters. We were a pact of gym rats. Every single day, every single phone call, every single email and every single discussion was about body building, weights, steroids, supplements, reps, sets and the plan of action in the evening when we boys would meet up in the all-boys-gym.
We would also hang out regularly and frequently to check out new clothing styles, new gear and show off our ‘muscles’ collectively at shopping malls, when hanging outside or even when drinking coffee.
In fact, we took a great deal of pride going into the ‘All-You-Eat-Buffet’ to hog all the food possible and to see who could eat more than the other — rather who could out do the other just for the sheer sake of competitiveness.
Those were the fun days. And then I moved into Phase 3.
That was in and around the time I injured my lower back and my knees due to the heavy lifting. Due to a serious injury, I was now relegated to a wheelchair for 3 months. And during those 3 months, after the customary acts of kindness and concern — the boys decided to move on and I have to battle my own demons. So in came in the age of focusing on my career, making money, going to night clubs (though I hated it but eventually got used to it), going out for dinners, hanging out with the boys where the sheesha joints were — where we would sit and discuss world changing strategies, gossip about what US was doing and how the financial markets were working — after all WE were the experts isn’t it?
Each one of us compared the size of our vehicles, the capacity it had, the upgrades we would spend on it, the cool new tech gadgets we would buy and yeah — the hot girls we were dating at the moment.
Life was all about money and wall-street, until I reached Phase 4.
This was in and around the time I really put on a lot of weight — and by lots of weight I am talking about getting double my size. From being a skinny guy, to a muscular guy, a ‘well-built’ guy and now a completely ‘out-of-shape’ guy — I had gone through it all. And now I was at the worst phase of my life where health was concerned. I was fat, I was unhealthy, I was unhealthy — in fact, I couldn’t even walk a fleet of stairs if my life depended on it. And it was then I realized, I needed to keep fit and I needed to do something fast.
So in came my foray into jogging. And that slowly moved into joining running clubs. Slowly that moved into running the 10kms race. Then the Half-marathoners. Then the Marathoners. Then came in Cycling clubs. Then swimming clubs. And finally Triathlons.
Very soon, my friends, my conversations, my purchases, my lifestyle was all about what food I ate, what training program I was following, who was my trainer, what training split I had, how much weight I lost, how fast I could run my race, who was my closest competitor, which club I trained with, what new gear had come out, which heart-rate monitor, shoes, supplement and cutting edge gear I could purchase that would make me get a few minutes lesser as an Athlete.
You may not believe this but I literally dedicated 3 days a week of 9 hours absolutely intense training just for my goals and nearly 60% of my income, 80% of my time and 100% of my effort into being the best. But little did I know I was about to enter a life changing phase. The dreaded but needed….Phase 4
Finally, the phase that none of us like but need to go through.
The phase where we lose everything and the one that redefines us. And this was the phase I wasn’t prepared for.
When I lost everything I had — the money, the career and the position of power — suddenly everything vanished. In fact, everyone and everything vanishes. And then you are left all alone to survive — all by yourself. All alone.
And that is a phase where you are all by yourself. To reflect, to think and to analyze about your life, its priorities and what is next. And during that phase — you only have those who truly matter. It could be a friend. It could be a relative. It could be the most unknown person you can imagine. However, it will be just one or two. Not more.
Unlike the previous phases of being surrounded by scores and scores of friends, fans and followers — here you have maybe just one person. Or it could be just one individuals. Or maybe just you all alone.
There is no one but you.
And during that phase — you look back on life, all those phases, all those moments and ask yourself — ‘What in the world was I thinking?’
You sit there waiting for an answer and there is none. And so after minutes, hours, days and weeks of trying to make sense out of your life — you finally realize, you are all alone.
All these friends, these groups of people, these gangs of happening individuals — all this was a phase. A mindless, pointless, and useless phase. A phase where you were just trying to outdo each other, outperform each other and outshine each other. And today, none of it mattered. Simply because now, you are all alone. And when you are alone, you really focus on what matters. What truly matters. And in those moments of loneliness, I asked myself questions I had never asked before. Boring questions to be honest.
They weren’t questions like ‘What is the latest gear’ or ‘Where do we boys hang out on the weekend’. Rather it focused more on ‘If suddenly I met with an accident, is my family protected?’ or ‘Have I lived my life meaningfully enough?’ or ‘How more years do I have before age catches up and I cannot earn? Then what will happen?’ or ‘Have I saved enough for my future, my family’s future or a rainy day?’
Suddenly the conversation, the thoughts, the concerns, the agendas and the goals change. They change to a point where you only focus on what matters, you only focus on who matters and you only focus on things that matter. And what matters isn’t the latest iPhone or the coolest new ride or the hot new intern that joined the company. Rather it is the boring stuff like ‘what are the groceries we need to buy for the week?’ or ‘which supermarket gives us a better deal or special offer?’ or ‘Did we pay the bills last month?’
Nothing interesting or flashy.
Just the mundane yet necessary.
And now…The final phase.
Today, life is strange. Or it could be, maybe I have gotten stranger.
I wake up even before my alarm clock rings. In fact, even sleeping is an effort. Sometimes I even wonder, how in the world was I able to sleep for hours and hours once upon a time when today I even need to pop in a sleeping pill to get good nights rest.
Its like to sleep I need pills. And to wake up I need caffeine. What an irony of life.
I am no longer interested to see how many likes or comments I get on my Facebook feed. I am not bothered to know if I have 30% or 13% body fat. I am not bothered if the gang invited me to their overnight picnic and the adventurous new outdoors. Neither do I care who is dating whom. I am only concerned for me, my future and my family.
Suddenly life has taken a change. A serious change. And now I am only focused on what matters.
As I look back I see myself in the final phase of my life. A phase that is maybe Boring, Bland and a Bummer.
Today when I wake up — I don’t have a shower with the most expensive body wash and shampoo. A bar of soap does the trick.
I don’t spray myself with overpriced perfumes. A simple deodorant & talcum powder does the trick.
I don’t dress with the latest summer collection. A simple T-shirt and trousers do the trick. Oh by the way — they are the same ones I have been wearing for the last 2 years.
And I don’t even have hair on my head to apply gel. In fact, I am glad I am bald because now at least I can save the hassles that come while spending money for shampoo, conditioner and all crazy kinds of gels.
I am happy with a quick shower, simple breakfast and now sitting alone in my room doing work.
I don’t want to be a millionaire, billionaire or superstar. Now, all that matters to me is — am I able to pay my bills end of each month.
And so, as I sit at 4:32 am in the morning, I look back at my iMac and type this article, I wonder, where did those years go by…and then I laugh to myself and realize — It was just a phase.