Have you ever had one of those days where you look at your life and you wonder what the hell you're doing? Your job seems pointless, your existence meaningless, and suddenly you question whether or not you should carry on. These are the bad days.
These are the days that you power through in the hope of something better to come. If you think back on all the dreams you had as a kid and tally them up with everything that you haven't achieved, the gulf seems infinite.
Thanks for Bad Days
Bad days are like bad dreams; we need them. We need them to open our eyes because sometimes we forget to look at the world around us. Bad dreams are the ones from which we wake up short of breath, our hearts pounding, and feel thankful to be alive.
The good dreams are the ones from which we wake to find that our lives are extraordinarily ordinary. Without the bad days, we might forever continue on our well planned lives and never venture from the pre-trodden path.
It was one such bad day that shook me from my path and threw me into the world. A great big, terrifyingly exciting world.
I was a student of mathematics and in the final months of achieving my masters. This well trodden path would lead me to a respectable career and a steady income. It would guarantee a secure future in which I could safe-guard my ability to make fixed interest mortgage repayments and afford a two week holiday every year. My life would be very ‘comfortable.'
It took nothing more than the loss of a friend to tip my finely balanced scales and send me into a self-doubting spiral. Sometimes we expect significant events in life to be accompanied by immense build up and fireworks. But life isn't like the movies.
My event came in the simple form of a Skype conversation. I was saddened and unintentionally took a step back in order to look at my own life and what the future held for me.
A Masters in Mathematics. That was my day to day life and that thought grew like a cancer as my mind wandered far from my lectures. What satisfaction could I possibly hope to achieve from this direction in life? I was at a point where I would soon be stepping onto my career path and buckling down.
I do not underestimate the work and skill it can take to achieve a degree. Equally, I do not see it as something that is of paramount importance. It is simply a choice in life that is no better or worse than anybody else’s.
I looked at my potential degree and I wondered why I was on the inflexible path that I had chosen. Then I looked at everything else in my life and in my sadness, my existence seemed meaningless.
Drunk on thoughts, I stumbled blindly through hundreds of other students with my headphones blaring in an attempt to shut out the world around me. I wanted a high sugar energy drink packed with taurine and caffeine. Disgusting and terrible for one's health, it would be perfect for how I felt. Idling into the student union, I was oblivious to the world until a picture caught my eye.
A whole string of pictures in fact. Foreign scenes, animals, and experiences that had been captured on film. They offered a promise of something more; something that could cure a bad day.
I stopped in my tracks and stared at the pictures and the table from which they hung. ‘The Uganda Project.' A girl behind the stand was saying something to me but my headphones drowned out her words. I pulled them from my ears and almost smiled. Following graduation, this was an opportunity to go to Uganda and help on a school building project for a month.
It was the sort of opportunity that everyone sees and says that they'll do one day, but they put it off because they have more pressing plans. At that very second, nothing in my life mattered. I was truly free.
“I'll go.” In the blink of an eye, I decided. I didn't know anything about Uganda and I had never thought much about building schools. All I knew is that it offered me hope of finding something better, whatever that might be. Having nothing to lose, one is much more inclined to jump. I had nothing to lose and I jumped.
What followed was an experience of the culture and beauty of one of the most amazing places in life and friends that will stay with me forever. I spent days playing with children with whom I had no common language and experienced a magical world that I had only ever heard about in fairy tales.
Over a month after the project finished, I was on the island of Zanzibar with no money after my wallet had been stolen and spent a few nights sleeping on the beach. It was me, the ocean, and the baobab trees. Life was so wonderful that the smile could not be taken from my face.
Thank-you for the bad days. Thank-you for the bad days that let us appreciate what is important in life and free us of all our possessions. These are the days that make dreams come true.
Next time you have a bad day, don't roll over and die. Get up, jump up, let go, and find something that sets your mind on fire. It just might be the best bad day of your life.
by Jamie Bowlby-Whiting
Bio: After completing his Masters in Mathematics and conceding that he would never be Batman, Jamie has been on a constant search for adventure which grows ever greater daily and has taken him across the world. Most recently he spent several months hitchhiking through 24 countries in Europe with no plans other than to enjoy life. When asked, he would tell people that he was homeless and unemployed.. but very happy.
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