Let’s have a meeting of the minds, shall we? If you’re reading this, then we’re likely kindred spirits. We’ve spent much of our life burning it down. Sometimes it’s meant absolutely screwing it up. Other times it’s meant starting all over. Most of the time it’s meant both, simultaneously. This is due to all of us being born with the unfortunate trait of perpetual discontentment that always welcomes change.
We settle into a new circumstance like a warm blanket, but as soon as we feel too safe or too comfortable, or (God forbid) too common, we’re over it. Whether it’s the city in which we live, a job we worked so hard to get, or a hobby we threw ourselves into, we’re quickly ready to move on. We’re not very monogamous with our ambitions, are we? Our dreams normally aren’t big enough to contain us, are they?
It’s tempting to pursue things that are conventional, predictable, and have a high likelihood of succeeding. On the contrary, you and I tend to try new things with the high likelihood of absolute failure. According to Seth Godin, this is precisely what making art is. So, let’s just start calling one another artists, shall we?
Every day we meet people who are very busy. Busy with work, busy with their goals, busy with their obligations. However, as busy as they are, we don’t normally observe them busy at making art. We don’t see them necessarily creating something new or building something important. Instead, we see them working incredibly hard on very unimportant things to accomplish the mundane status quo of the American dream. This profoundly bores us, and our conversations with them may quickly turn to sports (of which I care little about) or the weather (of which I have little opinion about). These interactions may make it difficult for us to maintain friendships, because we’re simply bored. But, put us around a table of crazy people trying crazy things and we come alive. The energy runs wild. We’ve found our tribe.
My wife and I have been ready to move out of our current town for years, and are finally doing so. Not because there is a perfect job waiting, or a perfect house, or the perfect friends. None of that is in place; none of that is waiting for us. And we’re not able to do this because we have a giant savings fund or the timing is right. No, our safety is not guaranteed.
So why do it? Here’s why: Because entering into something new is more important to us than playing it safe with well-calculated planning and preparation. Don’t get me wrong, that’s bitten all of us along the way, and I’m sure we all have the scars to prove it. Regardless, most of us wouldn’t have it any other way, because we need to be on the move. We are making things. We are creating things. We can’t help it.
For all those discontented eccentrics out there who are considering lighting the match once again, here are a few things I’d like to cheer you on with along the way:
- Make sure your risk is actually taking you somewhere, because NOTHING is NOT worth the risk.
- Choose a few people to take your pulse along the way, or you may find yourself not very alive.
- Extravagantly celebrate every milestone and success along the way, because likely no one else is paying attention to those things.
I believe those who live the most-fulfilled lives are those who are willing to burn their current life down to the ground. So who needs a match?
Photo (Flickr CC) by Markus Grossalber