~ Life Is An Opportunity: Go All The Way ~
“Naked and screaming you arrived: a living, breathing organism made of flesh, skin and bones on a rock spinning a thousand miles per hour as it levitates around a giant ball of fire in an infinite universe of exploding stars, black holes and interstellar nebulae. You arrived in your physical form with a body to explore with, a head to think with and time to play with – time that is, to undertake the brief, bittersweet journey that we call life. Planet earth is the stage for that journey – a playground of immense beauty where there are endless possibilities and where one thing can’t be denied. That from the day we are born until the day that we all die: life here is an opportunity.
It is an opportunity for us to come to terms with the mind-blowing scenario of life on this floating rock and decide how we are going to make the most of it. To decide how many of our dreams we are going to follow; to decide how many places we are going to visit; to decide how any professions we are going to undertake; to decide how many people we are going to share our journey with. Life is an opportunity – a chance to make our lives extraordinary and daring; a chance for all of us to push the lever of life down hard, chase the horizon and explore our wildest dreams. Life is an opportunity.
Yet when one looks at the world and society, how many people can honestly say they are pushing the lever down hard? Who are doing all that they can to make the most of their existence in the universe? Who are either chasing or living their dreams? We are all different, and one person’s version of a life well-lived is different to another’s, but so commonly as individuals we are disempowered and discouraged to neglect our dreams and passions (no matter how ridiculous they are) in order to be moulded and shaped by the cultures in which we are raised to live a life that is just ‘okay’ and ‘safe’. We forget that life is an opportunity and do things not because it’s true to our own nature, but to keep up with culture; to do something because everybody else ‘does that’ and because other people expect it of us.
That is why every now and again, one of us must come forward from the herd and remind people that they are all individuals. And that they are free. Free to chase their dreams and dance the ridiculous dance of life in an infinite universe. Free to abandon ideology and a culture that is oppressive to the true nature of the self. That they are free to realise once more that life is an opportunity for the artist to create works of art; for the athlete to set new records; for the scientist to make new discoveries; for the builder to create new structures; for the explorer to explore new places. It is a moment in time where the individual has the brief period of a few decades to make the most of their ticket in the playground of planet earth. And not to let any external force, any culture or any ideology hinder his or herself in any way.
When Martin Luther King stood up to fight for the freedom of black Americans, he knew that he would put himself in grave danger – but he also knew life was an opportunity; when Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of one of the world’s top universities to create the world’s largest social network, he faced failure and ridicule – but he also knew life was an opportunity; when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hilary first ascended Mount Everest they knew the immense dangers involved – but they also knew life was an opportunity. They knew that such an existence is precious and finite – and thus a chance to go all the way; to stand up for humanity and push the boundaries of exploration, passion and adventure.
And so, just like them, it is down to each one of us to decide at what length we want to explore our passions and dreams – no matter how big or small they may be deemed. It is down to us to look in the mirror, gaze into the eye of self and say: what am I doing right now to live my life the best I can? What am I doing this week that keeps me on track to taking full advantage of this extraordinary reality I am a part of? Ultimately, what am I doing to go all the way in this magical and beautiful world? Because, as far as we know, there is only one life. So, push the lever down hard; make the most of it. Explore. Dream. Discover. Create.
This is your opportunity.
~ Expanding Horizons ~
“Your life is a miracle. An unprecedented phenomenon that can never, or will never, be matched on any imaginable level. The very fact that you are currently conscious reading and understanding these letters, words and sentences is a moment in which its recipe consists of infinite combinations of abstract events happening in the right space at the right time. The optimum position of our planet in the universe; the perfect conditions on earth for life to flourish and evolve; the very fact that your parents went out to the same place on the same day and met each other. Just think: above anyone else that day, in any place, at any moment, they met each other – and you and your ridiculously complex DNA were the result. Just like they were when their parents before them met each other. And their parents. And their parents. The very fact that all these endless combinations of events led to your being on this earth means that your very existence is miraculous – a stoic defiance of the odds and the culmination of a billion unlikely things all gelling together in perfect discourse. YOU are a miracle. So revel in it. Celebrate it. Your life should be a symphony.
But it throws me – life, sometimes. It saddens me even. Amongst this grand symphony of existence on the magnificent stage of planet earth, I look around and I see so many of us consumed by monotony, recklessly killing the precious time that has been gifted to us. I see so many of us plodding along aimlessly, burying our desires, toiling endlessly in a job that we have no interest in – contentedly dwelling in dead-end towns where nothing ever happens until our minds and bodies become old and weathered. With our precious time on this earth dissipating as we sit comfortably on a sedentary cushion, we so easily fall into the trap of drawing the curtains on our world and perpetually living a systematic and samey routine in which we let days become weeks, let weeks become months, and let months inevitably become years. So many amazing opportunities and experiences drifting on by in the great ocean of time out in this vast world – yet we don’t reach out to explore and experience. And why? Why in a universe of violent bursts and endless movement do so many of us let our lives and horizons become so static and still? Why in a world where we could explore and experience a million different things do we persist in doing the same ones week in, week out?
I don’t hasten to say it, but I believe it to be so – just because it’s easy. It’s easy for us to get accustomed and stay in one place; it’s convenient for us to only ever interact to the same people; it’s comfortable for us to perpetually relive the same week and repeat the same habits for a lifetime. Due to the impulses of comfort, routine and security, a world can become a bubble – and eventually that bubble can become a world. A world where precious time flies by as we tumble endlessly through the vices of systematic living; a world where comfort and frivolous possessions rank higher than personal growth and experiences; a world where magazines and newspapers open and our minds close.
I know this because I’ve seen it, and I see it more vividly now than ever. After seventeen months of travelling around the world, seeing other-worldly sights, meeting hundreds of new people, sharing ideas, thoughts, language and adventures, I return home from this small lifetime to find that very little has changed. People have new shoes, but the same routine; people have new televisions, but the same knowledge; people have new cars, but the same scripted conversations. And with the pain and bitterness that comes with being back to square one, I have to look in the mirror and ask myself: is this lifestyle really our final destination? Is this static, comfortable bubble really where you and I want to dwell till the end of our days?
Even after only just a few of years of living a culture of experience rather than one of security and possession, I personally already know my answer to this is forever a resounding no. Life is not some story we tell ourselves; it is neither a tale of the past or a preconception of the future – it is the very thing that is happening to us right here – right now. Even as you’re reading this sentence. Now is forever; and if we are to sink into a bubble, stay still and never plot to move forward in any way – nor experience other things, peoples, places and ideas – then we are being short-sighted and condemning ourselves to not taking full advantage of the miracle of life and consciousness that we have all been gifted. And we’re bigger than that; in a time and age where we are more connected and capable than ever before – you and I are bigger than that bubble. Bigger than our sofa realities; bigger than those tabloid newspapers; bigger than closing our curtains and selves off from the outside world.
Our time is now and our time is precious. It truly is – like a drop in an ocean or a grain of sand in the desert, our brief time period of existence is ultimately nothing against the vast canvass of time in the universe. And this universe will not wait. Life is not a rehearsal; it is not some show on television – it will come to an end and there will be no replay button. Time shall pass; youth shall escape us; our bodies shall age; our lives will come to an end – and we will all die – that is undeniable and for sure. But when the time comes, our sun sets and our miraculous time on this earth comes to an end, the only thing of any importance to me and you will be just how much we ever really lived in the first place.”
~ The Movement of Life ~
“Move. You were born to move. From the very second you entered this earth you were born to move. Before you could talk, you cried; before you could walk, you crawled. Wild and curious, you grew and explored the world around you. First was your home and your school, then it was your street and your neighbourhood – then your city and its fields. As the weeks went by, your world and horizons opened up and everything became bigger as you grew into the universe around you. You dreamt, you learnt, you explored, you wandered – and you moved. Because that was the most important thing; that was what was natural. To move and to grow. But what happens? What happens as you get older?
Your natural curious instinct to move and explore is stifled out of you. You become an adult and are asked to decide on things that ultimately make you static. You’re asked to have a job in a singular building in which to spend your adult life saving to buy a static house that ultimately compounds and cements one’s lack of movement. Your range of movement that once soared week-in, week-out as you grew into your world becomes reduced to the simple repetitive commute to work, the few square metres in the building of the work space and the same old journey to the supermarket and pub at the weekend. Too tired after work, you park yourself down on the sofa to watch a box in front of you every night. Your mental and spiritual world also becomes ever-harder to expand and explore; with time constraints and a grinding exhausting routine, there is no time to write that book, to learn that language or to play that instrument. You are too tired and too busy. So you no longer explore, you no longer wander – and you no longer move.
But it’s not all your natural state of being; a lack of movement in intrinsic to a lack of life after all – no movement consequently suggests no life. If one lets their physical and mental movement decline exponentially then they are left living less and less each day as they descend into old age. And so you have to respond. To live to your fullest and make the most of now, you have to move. Whoever you are, in whatever capacity, in whatever format. Go running before or after work; find time to work on your passion; travel to a new place on the weekend; save up all your money to go on an adventure – an exploration, a journey, a voyage. If you’re young and have no responsibilities to attain to, then travel and live on the other side of the world, in a new culture, a new landscape. If you’re old and encumbered with responsibilities then embrace them – take your kids to new places, try new things in your spare time, seek to learn something new and break bad habits.
Exercise. Exercise your body, your rights of freedom, your right to explore, grow and be happy. The ability to run, to cycle, to jump or to climb is due to the ownership of the greatest device one can ever own. Your body is the most valuable piece of equipment you will ever have the privilege to operate – a privilege that is fully denied to many others. So make the most of your mobility and feel the power of your existence as you tread the earth’s vibrant soil and run through space and time. Make the most of your mobility and move.
And keep moving. Don’t let your movement decrease; ever. Stay hungry, stay wild. Your movement is the exercise of your life, your process of being conscious, alive and a part of this universe. It’s what quantifies your existence in this moment right here – right now. Never let your life slow down to the point where you are sitting still and killing time; not while you have the ability to run, fly and soar into the space around you. Just remember that the day all your movement decreases completely and you cease to move and look forward, mentally and physically, will ultimately be the last day of your life. To move is to live. So get up, open your horizons, explore your passions, plan your adventures, keep growing and keep moving. Always.”
~ Closed Curtains; Closed Mind – The Dangers Of A Sedentary Life Style ~
A fish out of water; a classic car rusting in a garage; a bird in a cage.
Some things in this world just simply aren’t meant to exist in certain environments. Disregarding the qualities that makes them such wonders of life, art and magnificence, it makes our heart ache when we witness such beings go to waste during their precious and powerful moments here in the universe. Contained wonder; contained raw power – a true travesty of existence that leaves most compassionate people with a sense of melancholy when witnessing such unnatural sights as a fish flapping helplessly on sand, or a bird hesitating to spread its wings because of the metal bars three inches in front of its beak. These things do not belong in said environments, we tell ourselves – in is not natural, and it is not just. But in looking at these things and concluding such thoughts, sometimes we need to look in the mirror, look back upon the reflection and ask: what about humans? What about ourselves?
Of all the creatures on planet earth, we are by far the most complex and intellectually powerful. With the tool-set to explore, interact, construct and create, me and you have the dexterity and intelligence to build skyscrapers and climb to the top of mountains; we have the utter depth of language to connect with people from all around the world and go on journeys, start adventures, live dreams, share knowledge and discuss complex ideas. No other being can even get remotely close to the level of communication me and you have right now in the writing, reading and understanding of these words and sentences. In human history our kind has culminated such physical, linguistic and intellectual excellence to sail around the world, write novels, build satellites, fly into space, climb the tallest mountains, run the longest races and break the unbreakable records.
But as majestic and advanced as we are, we are not invincible and – just like the aforementioned creatures – we are also vulnerable and at risk when we are to enter unnatural environments; ironically one which is self-created in the form of a sedentary lifestyle that permeates our daily routine living. Such a way of living comes from an overexposure to technology and a society that places us in one place and often tires us out, leaving many of us not to explore, build, exercise, learn and interact with the world – but to instead live a life of stillness – one where we remain indoors and incessantly consume media as we degenerate our health and complex minds. In doing so we become the salmon out of water, the Chevrolet rusting in the garage, the eagle in the cage. We become the very thing that so often leaves us with a sense of melancholy and sadness – our abilities to explore, build, run and discover contained by a lifestyle choice of closed living.
The effects are deadly. Health campaigners against sedentary living warn that such lifestyles can be linked to as many deaths a year as smoking, with the risk of falling victim to fatal heart diseases rising by 64% when one maintains a sedentary lifestyle. Amongst this, research papers conducted on the public also attribute health problems such as depression, diabetes and even dementia. The problem goes beyond such physical health problems though – it rocks our foundations of mental and spiritual well-being. How can we as people aspire to become learned and knowledgeable about the world when our windows to it become sensationalist tabloid-newspapers and trashy, unimaginative television? How can we learn to talk to people and develop our empathy when we physically interact less and less each day? Whereas a lack of exercise will degenerate our bodies, an over-consumption of media and lack of real world empirical experience will degenerate our minds.
Sure, the technological aspects of the information era present to us many advancements in the world. Computers and their capabilities act as the veins of society; TV news brings us far-off events to the comfort of our homes; our phones make it easier to connect than ever before. But to leave this world completely unregulated, place too much emphasis on it and let this static consumption totally replace our natural environment is unnatural and damaging. In a world where technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we need to seek to experience people, events, and places not through profit-driven media, but through travel, exercise and exploration. We should learn not through word of mouth and gossip, but by empirical experiences and real tangible things. These are the things that help us evolve mentally, physically and spiritually – not a static and still sedentary lifestyle that is counterproductive to the evolutionary process that has made us all such advanced beings in the first place.
You and I were meant for so much more than a still lifestyle. So let’s put the fish back in the water, fire up the rusty old Chevrolet one more time and release the eagle from the cage. Take flight. Walk, run or cycle once a day; integrate travelling movement and learning into lifestyles. On the journey of evolution let our lives count for positive, adventurous and progressive strides, not static and still ones. Because as far as you and I go, we are only here once – so let’s use this time to utilise the tools that make us the most advanced species here on earth. Get up from the chair, open the curtains, open our minds, explore, dream, learn, move and discover.