Photo: Curtis Macnewton
Ever since 2020 turned into the year of Covid-19, my social media feeds have evolved into a never-ending stream of home-cooked food, bodyweight workouts, and forwarded challenges of all types.
There have been a handful of people who’ve picked up seven new languages as well as those who’ve turned into three-star Michelin chefs overnight. Then there are the ones advocating self-care from the couch, assuring everyone that it’s okay not to be productive.
I say fuck it. You’re old enough to decide what you should or should not do with your time, regardless of all the flexing—both figuratively and literally—you’re seeing on social media.
Photo: James Lee
This was written for the Reddit writing prompt: You were one of the greatest people on Earth before you died. Instead of going to Heaven, you arrive in Hell and are welcomed with open arms by Satan himself, who you learn is your real father.
What would I leave behind? My running foundations for the needy? My success in fighting climate change? The eradication of disease?
I would say that these were my last thoughts on my deathbed, but as it seemed, I just went from one way of existence into another, much like waking up from a dream. It happened so naturally that I didn’t even know I had died. Not until my guide had told me who he was, which I found it hard to believe too.
Photo: Kelly Sikkema
“I think we should break up.”
“Right,” I said. I slipped the paper rose I’d been hiding back into my pocket.
“I just want to be honest,” Lana said. She pointed out the main entrance of the shopping mall, where her new boyfriend was waiting in his car. “It’s just that he has… you know… and you don’t… you know…”
Money, she meant money. To be fair, it was one of the most honest breakups I’d ever had to endure. You had to give her credit for that.
“I get it,” I said. “Okay then. Guess I gotta go back to work.”
“You’re not mad?”
Mad? She’d been hanging out with this guy all week, told me he was just a friend she hadn’t met in a while, was breaking up with me for him, and they were heading off on a date right after this, while I’d have to spend the remaining hours of my shift dealing with customers trying to haggle a couple bucks off our pirated Playstation 2 games.
Photo: Rob Walsh
Like many of you, I had no shortage of ambitions growing up, each promising their own little umbrella of possibilities. And if life turned out for you the same way it did for me, these dreams probably petered out and died through the ravages of adulthood.
We’ve probably even shared ambitions as kids: fireman, lawyer, scientist. But as I entered my teenage years, I’d realise that my dreams would take a turn for the grandiose.
Photo: Alvaro Serrano
Think about getting off your chair right now and doing thirty minutes’ worth of bodyweight exercises. Think about writing a book. Think about picking the salad instead of that pizza you were craving.
Chances are, you probably have a long list of things you’d rather do, and why shouldn’t you? None of those ideas seem like fun, even if they’re already part of your routine.
Yet these are the types of tasks we wish we could do to replace our Netflix binges and nights out drinking. They’re just boring as hell to get started on.
So let me offer you a way out.
Photo: Isaac Smith
I remember the first time my ex-girlfriend took me to a proper hair salon. It wasn’t something I was ready to do when I was nineteen and broke, but she said she’d pay, so I went.
It was the first time I didn’t get a haircut alongside Old Master Q comics and Japanese hairstyle magazines. They even served tea and actually washed my hair, something I wasn’t used to, having grown up with Indian barbers or those dingy places where the aunts in flip-flops looked more like they belonged on the set of Kung Fu Hustle than at the salon.
Photo: Nadim Merrikh
“I don’t want a promotion, I just want to write. But I could still use the raise,” I said.
“Hm, not quite what I expected, but I’d be glad to do that,” said Margaret. She moved her hands from a steeple under her chin to put them palm-down on the table. “I guess that settles it. Thanks for coming in!”
“You know what?” I said. “Actually, I think I’d rather not work. But if you could just mail my cheque every month, that’ll be great.”
“Hm. Now that’s something I’ll have to look into.”
I leaned forward, my own hands gripping the edge of her desk. I tried to calm my pacing heart. Was this it? “Are you telling me you won’t do it?”