July 25th, 2013

The Sine Of Life

Note: This post is a personal piece and discusses death. If you’re here for programming and monster trucks, you may want to skip this one.

Nearly three months ago I was sitting here in my chair, writing a blog post about some of the lessons I’d learned from my failed software company. It discussed how, despite having a pretty crappy time of it, I’d come out of the process a smarter and better person. “Things are now looking up!”, I wrote, and discussed how my late father’s entrepreneurial spirit had been passed on to me to the point where I was looking forward to maybe starting another business in the future — one that would surely do better than my first! At the very least, I’d be able to avoid the mistakes I’d made before.

I finished the post mid-afternoon and decided to sit on it for a day and re-read it in the morning to make sure it still made sense with a fresh pair of eyes. I was in a pretty reflective mood — this was the first time I’d really written about my Dad, his death in 1998, and his influence on my life even though he’d long passed away. I was happy — my financial troubles from the aftermath of the failed business were all but gone, I was settling down with my fiancée in a new country and we had nothing but an uncomplicated life to look forward to.

That evening, my Mother died.

Once again, I was reminded just how fragile an illusion the “uncomplicated life” really is. Somewhat terrified by the timing of everything, the blog post I wrote never saw the light of day.

Some Time Later…

Twelve weeks later, life is regaining a sort of twisted normality. Everything seems normal enough — I’m getting up, going to work, paying bills. It’s a little bit harder to gain motivation to do anything, and I’m constantly fighting a small, deep-down urge to run back to the UK and hole up in an old friend’s house and feel sorry for myself until he forcibly ejects me from the premises. However, considering that I’m now the root node of my future family, the urge to run back to a known safe place isn’t exactly shocking.

Thankfully, these minor niggles will be temporary. My Father died just when I was old enough to fully understand the magnitude of what happened, so this isn’t the first time I’ve faced my own mortality — something that invariably happens when a loved one passes. As easy it would be to fall into a descending spiral of pity right now, I find myself compelled to go the other way — to embrace that my time in this world will be short and strive for something amazing.

I’m 28 and I’ve already done quite a lot. In the past fifteen years I’ve formed a successful company and enjoyed the spoils of a great wage. I’ve lost that company and endured the defeat of near bankruptcy. I’ve moved countries. I’ve been through the devastation that is a parent dying — twice. I’ve fallen in love. I’ve lived the lonely single life.

What persists through this chaos is not the sorrow of lost parents, the crushing pressure that is £50,000 of debt after having lost your entire income stream, or the pain of a poorly managed company failure severing friendships. What persists are happy memories — the joy of flying to Australia for Christmas with my family and girlfriend and driving down the coast in a rented a convertible car, of celebrating a successful product launch with a friend by driving a pair of Aston Martins around a track all day, and of countless other experiences and memories I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

In life, the highs balance out the lows, much like a sine wave. Sure, some of my lows are my own fault, but that particular trainwreck had an incredible amount of highs to balance it out. I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and righted my wrongs — debts have been repaid, friendships repaired.

What I can’t do now is glide along in mediocrity — it’s time to ensure the upwards swing of my sine wave happens by grabbing life by the scruff of the neck and jumping in with both feet. That convertible car I want that’s entirely inappropriate for a country that spends four months a year buried under a metre of snow? Perhaps it’s time to place an order. Those app ideas that’ve been rolling around in the back of my head? Well, it might soon be time to give being my own boss another shot. What could go wrong?

Right now, I’m still feeling the effects of the low swing of the sine — there’s nothing like spending a week buried in paperwork that formalises “Both of my parents are dead, here’s a pile of figures” to the UK government to keep you in a dull mood.

Looking forward, though — looking up — I’m excited as hell.