It’s raining on the window in the work cafeteria. Outside and down below, I see two trains sail past each other. Why am I up here? Why am I not working?
I’m not sure when my work ethic weakened. If I were forced to guess, I’d say it was in my second year of university. I’d worked hard through high school and I remember wanting a break. I went straight to uni and didn’t get one but I do remember being less focused. Part of it was the absence of an accountability, relative to school at least. If you didn’t do the preparation for a class or submitted an assignment late, the lecturer didn’t care.
Things got worse when I went to Japan. I could have made my job more difficult, found things to do. The job wasn’t difficult. It arguably wasn’t even purposeful. A piece of performance art that everyone knew was pointless but pretended was important. It would have been a perfect time to pour myself into language study. Instead I spent a large amount of time browsing the Internet. I remember wanting a break.
Things were slightly better when I started at the law firm in Australia. My wife was still in Japan and I had fewer obligations to worry about. I found other activities to fill my time. Those did not involve studying or developing my legal skills. I devoted an ungodly amount of time to organising a convention for Sydney’s anime fans. It was a terrible waste that I almost entirely regret. The convention is still going and I made some very close friends so there is that, I guess. But I should really have spent the time more productively.
Time has passed, I came back to Japan and I started a family. Now I have very little free time. I made the decision about a year ago to spend that free time programming. It makes me happy and seems like it’s—at least if you squint—about bettering myself. But I should be studying Japanese. I wrote an e-mail to a friend the other day talking about my language study and he responded by wondering, if I’d been at it for 10 years, why progress had been so limited.
I’m 36 and I’ve wasted so much time. ✺