Sunday, July 6, 2008

Living Alive

Living on the edge is the only way to really live.

Let me ask you a question. Why are people afraid of dying? Well, I have a theory.

People are afraid of dying because they are afraid that they will never be able to do everything they wanted to do. They fear that they will never get to what makes life interesting: experiences. Doing things makes life enjoyable; it gives us both meaning and pleasure. A life devoid of experiences is an unhappy one. Sadly, I have seen people who choose to live boring lives of the same old experiences, jobs they hate and a lack of change.

So, how then can one live a life not wasted? By living with an open mind and a willingness to try things. By keeping life fresh he continues to live with a reason. Does this mean that you should live as a hedonist? No. A life of pleasure and no meaning is still an unhappy one. I will not be surprised if hedonists are kept up at night by a strong feeling of "why am I doing this?" or "God, I feel bored!" Similarly, meaning with no pleasure yields no happiness . The same feelings of "Why am I doing this?" and boredom occur. These are two paths to the same, tired end. Only when one gets both pleasure and meaning he gets happy. The more of both, the better. Surplus of one and deficiency of the other will yield long, sleepless nights.

Now that we have mapped out the way live well, we should define what it is. For example: when you graduate from school, or leave something, do you ever feel that you should have done something, left something incomplete?

Take for example, you visit a resort famed for skydiving. It cost you over three months pay to go there, and here you are. You have the opportunity to amaze yourself and others. But, as the travel guide offers you the chance, you decline because you think it too unsafe. All the money you accrued to get there has gone to waste; same with the effort, but most importantly, the chance to do it has gone and will never come again. You missed the chance to be able to know how it is like to do something like that.

An interesting person is one who has seen and done special things and can tell about them. That's why a boring life not only leads to a wasted life, but a boring person.

1 comment:

Vincent Wong said...

True, and the process of making the money to go skydiving must be thrilling and creative for one to live a life of pleasure, meaning, and arete. This colorful blend of three values makes an interesting life and an interesting person.

Arete is explained here. I believe it will fire up the discussion.

Tal Ben-Shahar, in his book Happier, also does a great job of living for experiences, while aligning those experiences with values that define a human being.

On an extended, interesting note, I also think that in our consumerist society, we often mistake material wealth and objects for what we really want. We really want the experiences to gain from what we might buy. Well...I won't elaborate on this, because you and I have already discussed this in detail, Mr. Call of Duty taught me how to ace my history finals.