Shadow Lives

This is a piece I wrote a few years ago.  I wrote it for myself, in a moment of frustration and disappointment.  I hadn’t planned to ever share it, but I think you might be able to relate.  If you’ve ever felt this way, well, that makes two of us.  The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay this way…    

I live a shadow life.

I play imaginary concerts with my imaginary singing skills.  I have imaginary conversations with pretty girls.  I give imaginary thanks to the people I care most about.   I display imaginary courage.

What am I really doing?

Prowling Facebook, reading garbage internet articles, watching garbage internet videos.  Avoiding doing the things I need to, fantasizing about wild success.

Walking to Whole Foods, I passed a pretty girl.  I turned.  She was waiting at the light 10 steps away, yoga mat sticking out of her bag.  Beautiful, obviously into fitness.

“Fuck” I said, and continued walking.

Blocks later, I am having a wonderful imaginary conversation with her.  Another block and I am introducing her to Ben.  She has come out to see an improv show with us.  She is sweet and witty with a big laugh.  Ben congratulates me on the catch.  I smile.

Then I stop.

I am not talking to a pretty girl.  She is not coming with me to improv.  I am walking through the street in my sweatpants, heading to Chipotle.  Alone and silent.

The smile on my face is an embarrassment.  A sick sort of consolation.  A disgusting and perverted cognitive trick to obscure the fact that I am living in a Matrix of my own creation.  It’s a shadow life.  The one I should be living.  It calls to me.


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6 Responses to “Shadow Lives”

  • This reminds me of the “how to make your dreams not come true” post on here a while back, really cool to see the fact as well as the theory.

    Do you think knowing what you were missing out on or what could have been helped spur you on to make changes in your life?

    • Absolutely. There were so many things that could have spurred me on, including seeing someone else I knew doing what I wanted, making a different decision and having it go well (Which is what wound up happening in other situations), or just remembering that everyone regrets the chances they didn’t take, not the ones they did.

      In retrospect, what’s fascinating is how close I was/we all are to doing the thing that we think is impossible. If the wind blows a certain way and we actually experience doing it, then everything changes.

  • I can relate a lot right now. I’m walking in circles because what I want isn’t the beaten path and everything is reliant on me to stop “avoiding doing the things I need to, fantasizing about wild success” and to take action. Figuring out where to start is my issue.

    • I think the secret is not to “figure out where to start.” It is to start somewhere without knowing if its the right place. Then adjust. You’ve got to get out of your head, even if it means missteps.

  • This article really hits home right now. There’s been a few times I’ve felt exactly like this in the past week, and to hear you tell a similar story really means something. I have really appreciated these last posts which have been much more personal – it’s easy to relate to and I think is sometimes way more effective than a more traditional ‘Here are five things to improve your conversation’.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of these, thanks a heap Charlie!

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