I was always a healthy child, rarely ever even the sniffles or the flu, but from the ages of about 12 to the present day, I essentially used my body as a car crash dummy. Lining up all the different walls I could crash through to prove the resilience of my car, and I must say, it’s pretty fucking resilient. Sturdy and quality engineering if I do say so myself.
I abused hard drugs heavily for more than a decade and in the process, gave myself a stroke at the age of 16. A truly functional junky if ever there was one. I have a degree I have zero recollection taking, and stamps in my passport from countries I don’t even ever remember visiting. Travelled to dangerous off-track places. Trusted strangers. Hitch-hiked. Took every new drug that came my way. Every experience. I’ve skydived. Bungee-jumped. Swam with sharks. Had more concussions than sense. Broke the majority of the bones in my body with my stupid risks, more metal than brains now, as my dad always says.
Starved my body. Then in severe depression and withdrawal gorged on all the magnificence the world has to offer. As much pizza and whiskey as a body can handle! Relations with every sexy person I could. Exposed myself to toxic waste and several wars in the pursuit of my journalistic career, and contracted more parasites than I care to recount. Oh. And I also smoke.
I shouldn’t be alive at all I suppose. But I’ve always felt that what’s the point of living a life of safety and caution when our only guarantee is that we go? Each experience and pain and bliss is a story and a lesson. An opportunity and a chance to adapt. Without risks life is boring. Without pain and sadness, you can never truly understand joy.
I came home after years of an hedonistic and at times almost sadistic odyssey of exploration and found myself with heavy metal poisoning and leukemia, C-PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, persistent cyst-making tapeworms, dormant malaria, multiple and compound fractures that left my body full of arthritis, metal plates, pins, and screws; and autoimmune responses to the multiple treatments I required.
Thing is though, even knowing what I know now. Having gone through all that pain. I’d do it all again. I am the person I am today because of that experience.
I often tell the parable of my two grandfathers. The chain-smoking, hard-living hedonist, who drank and ate to excess; and the simple, clean-living, clean-eating, moderate who hiked two miles each day. Which one do you think died of lung cancer and which is alive today, at a ripe old age, looking 20 years his junior? I’ll give ya a hint. It’s not the hedonist who got cancer.
Whether you live or die isn’t always up to you. If you miss out on living just to extend that life, what’s the fucking point? I’ll continue to drive into the wall and face life head-on, cause even if I die tomorrow, at least I know that I truly lived.