For all of the careening at terminal velocity and the gut wrenching, inverted circles that might take place, Skydiving has, for the most part, proven to be safe. The law of percentages, not to mention a thorough pre-jump check list, allows even the perpetually grounded humans a feeling of flight while safely touching them back on the ground from where they began. Uncomfortably shaken up perhaps, on the edge of fear for sure, a bit worn out and uncomfortable from going fist-to-cuffs with gravity, but nevertheless, returned safely. Unchanged, except for the ear to ear smile, the transcendence of spirit and the itch to go again, maybe even to go bigger.
Skydiving for the first time can teach us a lot about what goes into creating a great life. You have to find the right combination of being grounded and taking flight. Throw in a little risk while minimizing the downside and don’t fear the first step even if it feels like there’s nothing there but air. The best experiences happen when you let go of whatever it is that you might be holding on to. Staying grounded in life requires self awareness, while jumping into the unknown requires an affinity for adventure and from time to time, the willingness to stretch your tolerance for risk.
What do you live for? Better yet, what are you willing to die for? Do you know? Who you are, what you like, what your purpose is; these are all of the deep questions that stoics dedicate their lives to and almost everyone else spends their life avoiding. There just isn’t a lot of time to figure out your purpose while scurrying around in the 9-5 rat race. Unfortunately, asking yourself the difficult questions and answering honestly is the only thing that will lead you to a higher state of being. Perhaps even a life that you love vice one that you accept. Everything you have always wanted to be, do or try is just waiting in the wings until you find the courage to try and fly.
Most people don’t pursue the life that they love simply because they don’t know what it is that they actually love. The universe will drop hints but if you spend every day entrenched in the mundane, you’ll never pick up on them. You have to be willing to unbiasedly explore all of the parts of life that don’t readily present themselves. Search for alternative conversations outside of the mainstream media in podcasts, books or any of the various new media sources. By exposing yourself to new ideas, over time you will learn what you identify with and what feels like friction. Gravitate to what you identify with, begin deleting what feels like friction and use this as a starting point for crafting an improved life.
You have to know what you think about the world around you. Not what your parents think, not what your teachers or your preachers think. Not what white people, black people or brown people think. It doesn’t matter how republicans feel about an issue or how democrats feel about an issue. Aligning yourself with any group based on affiliation and not genuine cohesive thought is destroying our culture from the inside out. In a world that is filled with recycled opinions and click bait whores, your ability to form an original thought is not only what will set you apart, it is what will guide you to a life that is based much more on happiness and much less on the appearance of normalcy.
When you are gone and no longer a part of the physical world, it will not matter whether you operated your life based on some societal standards that were set by the power hungry and the intellectually lazy. What will matter is whether or not you can say that you have maximized your one chance at this experience that we call life. In order to do that, you have to be willing to give yourself wholly to what you believe in. If there are people around you that don’t understand that, fuck what they think. This life is too short and sacred to operate in any other manner.
It is important to note that there is nothing more important than being aware of the motive of what you consume. All of the commentators that show up in your life have an agenda. Your parents want what’s best for you based on what the world looked like when they grew up. Your teachers want you to assimilate based on a provided and government approved curriculum. Your friends want you to look normal in front of other friends. News outlets want to monetize your eyeballs by keeping you engaged regardless of how negative the means. All of these people feel a certain way about something and if you blindly consume what they are offering, you will have no idea how you actually feel about that topic.
The society around you has a plan for you to be a cog in its machine. Figuring out anything outside of being that cog is exhaustive, not to mention difficult and the aforementioned, uncomfortable. Still though, it should be priority number one. There is a good chance that what’s best for your soul and what the people around you believe you should do are entirely different. Letting go of the latter is difficult but then again, so is an existential crisis.
Devote time to getting to know yourself and it will pay dividends. When you chase projects, relationships and careers that don’t work out, you will still know who you are and where you stand when the smoke clears. Not to mention, from where you can begin again. Compare that with the alternative and all to often used method of tangling your entire character and self worth in every shiny object that promises relief or attention and it’s easy to see why so many of us are so lost. The risks, the adventures, chasing a dream that no one can see but you, those are the things that make great stories and that is where growth and enlightenment are found. The caveat being that you have to be certain of who you are in order to ensure that you don’t get lost in the experience. After all, the feeling of flight without returning to the ground loses its allure pretty quickly.
Lastly, look to recognize the difference between enduring for the life that you love and needlessly settling for pain just for pain’s sake. There is no nobility in remaining in a life that you hate. Don’t be afraid to quit when the end is no longer justifying the means. We stay in romantic relationships, jobs and friendships longer than we should because we are so scared of what life might look like when the comfort is torn away. And believe me, I get it. The idea of going out on a limb only to realize you are the only one out there can be nerve racking but still, necessary. Often times we don’t leave a situation that no longer serves us simply because we fear it is the best we will ever get. Raise your fucking standards. You will always get what you accept and it will get better. It always does. You will adapt, evolve and eventually overcome, only to realize that your life is much better than even you could have imagined.
Maximizing the human experience requires that we leave no stone unturned. We have to be willing to explore any and everything that we feel drawn to, regardless of whether or not we have society’s approval. We must be willing to be bold when others are timid, and we need to put our feet forward when others would rather not leave the safety or comfort of the present. Lastly, we have to be willing to endure only when the endurance justifies the means. And in the event that it does, our endurance should be limitless.