I was outside this evening with my 6-year-old son when he spotted a firefly. He started following it with his eyes at first and then started chasing it around the whole backyard until he finally caught it. This got me thinking about when I was young, and just a child. I lived next to a park, and in the summer evenings you could look over and see hundreds of them buzzing around. I always thought it was such a cool thing, such a thrill running around trying to chase those things. This led me to think about all the things that have changed in my life...
Back then life was pretty straightforward. As a child, you place your value on what feels right in the present. Your not thinking about 2 years down the road, or wondering what others are going to think. Your creativity and sense of exploration are running on all cylinders. But then something happens. We begin to understand the way of things. We start to see what is valued in society, we see what is expected, we see how success is defined. And so begins our ascent up the ladder of society. Rung by rung we climb. Looking above us and below us to see where others are. We look to see how fast they are moving in relation to us, and eventually, this coincides with how we see ourselves, and as you know, how you see yourself is the best indicator of who you will become. Which is why when so many people aren't happy with their day to day, that's a red flag. That's not living, that is merely surviving. People will climb this ladder their entire lives and never stop to ask if they really want to be where they are going. Maybe the top of the ladder is not really what you want. They never thought, they only acted. Acted because this is what we have been taught is where we should go.
Do you remember when you first went to school? We were confined to classrooms, taught to obey rules, and "behave." We were discouraged from standing out and taught to do whatever we were told. We grew up with little control of our actions. This continues through high school and university. By then, it is very easy for some corporation to hand us a job and basically dictate our life. “ You will need to be here every morning at 9am and leave at 5pm. Some days maybe longer. You can have lunch from12:00- 12:30 and you get 2 weeks of vacation time.” We then go on to live our personal lives by doing pretty much what everyone else is doing. But what is everyone else doing? They are simply doing what advertisements are telling them to do. Buy this car, Buy this new phone, drink this beer it’s amazing, watch this movie, and so on.
This turns the population into consumers. We think that new phone will make us happy. We think watching that new movie will maybe spark a change in us. We are constantly being fed SOMETHING. This is the subconscious programing that strips our life of freedom and desire. There is all around you right now, the reflections of your world beliefs. Everything that you have created in your life thus far is a reflection of that. All the assumptions that you made about the world, and the things that are possible are most likely not yours. They are someone elses. Many of the things that are holding us back are rules given to us that are not ours. They are societies idea of what we should be. To quote a famous general, "You are remembered for the rules you break" and some of those rules are simply what is ok to dream. The power is in recognizing the trap you have been put in. One reason we all fall into this trap is because we all want to fit in. We all want others to admire and respect us, but as Epititus said "If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid." Can you allow yourself to be thought foolish and stupid, or do you allow yourself to be caged. I understand the sting of contempt, when someone you respect doesn't respect you, but if you let yourself be defined by what others perceive of as you, then you will forever be limited by what they give you permission to do.
I try to spend a few moments each day thinking about this. Its the most important thing I can spend my time on because, this is my life... It is more important than the opinions of others, it is the backbone of everthing I am and do. Everything around me and the meaning I give it stems from how I identify myself.
Which brings me back to those fire flies. To running around on a hot summer evening, not having a care in the world. There is something intrinsically perfect about those moments... Life is about peak experiences, joy, and excitement. So never lose that sprark because it's all that seperates us from every other being on the planet. If we don't have that then what do we have? What then seperates us from ants moving dirt, or from a lion hunting for his dinner. Without it we are left with just monotanous activities based on instinct and survival. Where is the thrill in that? Why not create a life that allows you to feel that excitement every day. Don't act because you are supposed to, act because you so desperately want to, that there is no other option. Because you couldn't live without the adventure or pass on the experience.
If you become fixated on a life that means nothing to you, at some point you might get to the top, only to realize that you have a perfect view of everything you missed out on... So imagine with me for a moment that it is a fall morning years from now. The sun is shining through your window. You get out of bed like its just any other day, except this particular day would be different. It would be your last day on earth. You walk outside and begin reflecting on life from day 1to where you are now, and in that moment my question to you is this. What would you value most looking back? I have always been intrigued by this question. I like it because it is a strong reminder of whats important, and brings us much needed clarity of perspective. So what would that moment look like? You most likely wont focus on how tough the climbs were, you probably won't remember the battles and the struggles. What you will most likely remember are the moments of victory. The times when you were able to do something significant to contribute to the world, to help and be near those who mean the most to you. What we learn as we get older and progress through life is that failures dissolve and fade away. They are there to provide us with the wisdom that we need and then they disappear into the universe. Its the other piece that needs our attention. The quote we've all heard a million times about regretting the things that we don't do more than the things we do. So imagine, as you continue this walk outside, and you think about your dreams and all the things that fear kept you from doing or becoming...
Study after study shows that the biggest regret of people with limited time left is living according to the expectations of others. Not having lived a life that was true to themselves. So I invite you to consider this last question. What do you want to do? We are not supposed to leave our dreams at home or tuck them under our pillow at night. We are not here to fullfill someone elses dream. You can't ignore what your soul is here to do. Therefore it is totally irrelevant what others think of you and what you do. Right now for most of us our brain is keeping score. The problem is our brain is designed to keep us safe. When you get to the edge, your brain will always tell you to step back because you might fail. Your soul however is here to soar and expand. So you have to be willing to play between your brain and your soul, and on some days you just have to listen to your soul. Most people are at the edge and are watching everyone else fly. They're at the edge watching someone else live. Wondering what its going to be like when they jump... Your greatest fear should not be that you will fall, your greatest fear should be that you live your entire life and never fly. You shouldn't be afraid of dying, you should be afraid of dying before the world gets to see who you really are. Before you get to make your contribution... Consider this famous quote... "Everbody dies, but few truly live." So maybe a 4 year old chasing a glowing bug with a jar deserves more credit than he is given.