In a previous article I wrote about the advantages that come from experimenting in your life. Experimenting with habits, activities and hobbies allows us to jump the tracks of our routine existence. It allows us to see the world anew! This article will expand on that by reminding you that life is your adventure.
It’s up to each of us to choose to live it.
The Doldrums Of Routine
I’m just going to say it. Adult life in the rich west can be soul-crushingly monotonous. It seems the day after college graduation spontaneity, community, youthful hope and vibrancy take a plunge off a cliff. At least that’s what happened to me.
I went to college in upstate New York. While there, I made some of the most amazing friends a person could ever make. We met in freshman year in an athletic club and hit it off so well that after our first year we decided to live together in the same dormitory/student apartment. We trained together, took classes together, studied together and got into all sorts of collegiate mischief together. It was an unforgettable time for us, filled with community, healthy competition and learning.
Then graduation happened and we all scattered to the four winds. Ever since we’ve only seen each other during formal gatherings such as bachelor parties and weddings. Life caught us by the cuff and yanked us into the world of adult working stiffs, wherein one lives dauntingly similar days for years and years until the warm embrace of death finally takes us from this world.
Life After College Can Easily Become Soul-Numbingly Boring
We graduate, leave all our friends behind and start moving wherever the jobs take us. Then, after we’ve uprooted our lives in the pursuit of professional opportunity, we begin to feed our lives to our insatiable machine of our career.
Gone are the days of leisurely studying in the library and unplanned, unscripted chats with friends and acquaintances encountered in the halls, cafeteria or college green. Instead, we are left with a burgeoning sense of professional responsibility creeping into every moment of our waking lives. We become walking advertisements of our professional capacity; dim reflections of the radiant beings we were when we started life.
The truth is that after graduation we can no longer hang out with our real friends in the cafeteria after lunch, we all have work to do. The “friends” we encounter in the office hallway? They’re not really friends. If either of us left the office neither would ever feel the other’s absence. We maintain a working relationship because that’s what’s expected of us, we are subjects of the cultural mores of “politically correct professionalism.” We don’t really know each other, nor do we care to, we don’t even like each other, in all honesty. But we’ll never tell each other that, lest we get sent through a round of conflict resolution with Toby over in HR. And no one likes hanging our with Toby.
No, we can’t spontaneously visit one of our friends in the evening, order pizza and play video games while sipping on beer, we have to get up early for work. All friendly visits must now be scheduled and cleared by a gauntlet of mental bureaucracy which decides when and where the interaction can take place. So as to minimize the visit’s interference with our day-to-day working lives. We would love to hang out with our friends, but no deviation from the schedule can be cleared unless first approved by the sleep committee. We know waking up for work at seven in the morning after having slept less than our required eight hours is a torture fit for the halls of Hades.
Our once sparkling spontaneity, our thirst for discovery, becomes smothered under the crushing weight of western adult responsibilities. We become straightjacketed into our comfortable prosperity, leaving no entry for the unpredictability of life to nudge its way in.
And We Feel Miserable About It
We ask ourselves “Is this is?”, “Is this what I have to look forward to for the rest of my time alive on this beautiful earth?”, “Is this what I was put here to do? Hop through a series of scripted social encounters populated by sweater vests, nine o’clock bedtimes and stirring tales of our most recent Netflix binge watching session?”
Inevitably, our answer to those questions comes. It’s a resounding “yes.” But it’s a “yes” accompanied by a vague underlying feeling. The feeling is there, we can sense it’s outline, it pervades every waking moment of our lives; it’s the pink pachyderm standing in the center of our lives. We do our best to ignore it, to avert our eyes away from it, distract ourselves with inane drudgery, but try as we might the feeling remains there, seeping into our every waking moment and casting us into an inescapable vortex of frustration and anxiety.
The Feeling Is Dissatisfaction
It’s a dissatisfaction with the endless routine. With the planned everything. The endless meetings about nothing. With the shackles which were clamped around our wrists and ankles while we were off drifting in the dreamland of youth.
We went to school, the best one we could go to. We got the grades, the highest we could get. And at the end of it all we took the piece of paper from the outstretched hands of the university official which states that we know something. We united in collective celebration of our accomplishment.
Then we got the good job with the good pay and benefits. We began paying our taxes and filing for our tax returns. Our credit score is decent and improving by the day. We’re putting money into our 401K. Everything is happening as it’s supposed to.
So Why Do We Feel Cheated?
“If I had known this is what was waiting for me after making all the ‘right’ choices”, we say to ourselves, “I would had made way more mistakes!”
Why do we feel like there’s something we’re missing? Something residing just beyond our perceptual field? Just beyond our grasp? It maddens us and frustrates us, filling us with thoughts of what could be.
Those of us who entertain these dangerous thoughts suddenly find ourselves drawn to the irresistible flame of rebellion, mothlike. We approach it tentatively, uncertainly peering through its edges, trying to ascertain if something of substance resides there or whether we’re seeing vacuous mirages shimmer before our eyes. Beckoning us towards an insubstantial nothing wherein solely lies defeat and further frustration.
Most turn away from the flame, certain that certain dissatisfaction is preferable to uncertain combustion.
A precious few face the flame and allow themselves to fall into it, to be combusted, consumed, alchemically transmogrified into something, someone, unrecognizable to those familiar with the version past.
These People Are The Precious Few
They are the brave adventurers who take their lives by the horns of uncertainty and grapple with it until one or the other emerges, dusty and victorious.
I say it again. These adventurers, these life grapplers, are precious few. The scarce fireflies who flash once in the deep umber, unsure whether that’s all they’ve got. Unsure whether or not they’ll be able to pull it off again. Whatever “it” was.
These people, those who feel cheated, admit it to themselves. They don’t run from it. They say “I was cheated.” and maybe “I pursued an illusion.” and sure as thunder they follow with “What am I going to do about it?” They then take action to change their dissatisfied state are the rarest among us.
People Can Also Belong In A Second Category
Most people reside here. Not judging, just sharing an observation.
Most people live in a state of dissatisfied denial.
They feel the dissatisfaction, they experience it gnawing at their core, but they tell themselves “This is good. Life is supposed to be this way. I’m supposed to feel like this.” They deny the dissatisfaction.
I know this because I lived in dissatisfied denial for at least four years. So now I can tell when others do it, too. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.
The dissatisfaction deniers feel the feeling of dissatisfaction but do their best to hide it. They look around and see that everyone else seems to be getting along fine in their life circumstances. Everyone seems to be happy with the endless routine, the meaningless meetings and fake friendships.
The deniers look around and see that everyone seems to be alright in their absurd existence, Why should they be the ones to complain?
So They Bottle It In
They attempt to convince themselves that they are satisfied with the way their life is going. That they are excited about what the future has in store for them.
It’s the worst kept secret of our day and age. The pantomime of happiness we put on for each other’s benefit but never our own.
But try as they might to convince themselves, these people never succeed. No amount of rationalization can possibly disguise the feeling of dissatisfaction. You can put lipstick on a troll, but that only makes it a lipsticked troll. No offense to any trolls reading this.
The dissatisfaction seeps through the gossamer strands of rationalization, seeps like tar, it’s sticky stink tainting every choice, every thought and word. Slowly driving us mad.
Faced with the impossibility of deniability, the deniers, unconsciously turn to the only solution they believe can bring them solace.
They Numb Themselves
Entertainment. Drugs. Eating. Shopping. Gossip. Promiscuity. Gambling.
When we do these activities in satisfaction, with our choices, with the direction in which our life is going, we can allow them to come into our lives, be, and leave without attaching ourselves to them.
But when we engage in these activities, or any other but these in particular, with the belief that the activity is what brings us satisfaction, then we enter into a destructive cycle. Satisfaction is an internal state, nothing outside of us can give it to us.
When we fail to understand, innerstand and overstand this, we crave, endlessly. We crave more. More alcohol, more sex, more sugar and drama, more power, unaware that we are using their pursuit to numb ourselves to the reality we inhabit.
It’s our own personal merry-go-round of degeneration which we believe we are powerless to stop. So we allow it to continue its macabre revolutions, as each turn we find ourselves older, grayer, crankier and more stooped. Each turn we find ourselves more surrendered to the inevitability of dissatisfaction.
We hate ourselves, we hate the choices we’ve made. We hate our powerlessness to make meaningful change in our lives.
And so we surrender into victimhood and settle into our routines, which allow us the illusion of control while our merry-go-round finally stops and we get off, withered and brittle and grateful for respite at long last.
Throughout it all the choice remains the same.
Will you live life? Or will you let life live you?
You Can Choose Adventure On your Terms
Adventure is everywhere. It really is. We don’t need to have a college education, tremendous wealth or even health to embark on our own miniature adventure, every day.
And when we embark on adventure, when we grab uncertainty by the horns, we come alive. We fire an engine of inspiration at our core, which lights up our life in a dazzling panoply of colors. Humans evolved to adventure. We are at our greatest when we function at the edge between the known and the unknown.
Want to know which adventure is the most thrilling, chilling and fulfilling?
The adventure within. When we connect with the deepest part of ourselves, that eternal, unchanging unflinching part, we become one with the flow of life. We align ourselves with the divine purpose of the universe. Each of our choices become an act of creation. A super-high-resolution thread in the canvas of creation.
For example, writing this article was an adventure for me. I sat down, started writing and soon enough I found my words sailing across mysterious conceptual expanses, plumbing depths I knew not of before nor believe to ever know in full.
Our life is an adventure, our story; where each choice is a plot point and every storyline merges into one. The conscious evolution of a universal consciousness.
Our adventure is ours to make. It is we who write the story on the parchment of experience. We must never forget that fundamental truth.
We are and have always been the universe observing itself having a human experience.
The question then becomes, Will we act like it?
To our wealth and success