Have a think for a minute... Really... Just close your eyes as you finish this paragraph and think deeply for 20 seconds or so about a time when you've truly lived! Think about the feelings, the smells, the sounds, the tastes, the fright, the beauty... All of it! Please, just do it... You may learn something about yourself!
Okay... So you're back in the room! Good... Now I'm gonna hit you with some bullshit! Felt like a fish in a tank just recently, a dog in a kennel, or a horse bound to a rope?!?
I mean, you're alive right. And since you're reading this on the internet, you must be amongst the wealthiest 50% of people on earth. You must eat 3 times a day, if not a little more (go on admit it you chunky monkey.) You must work, you possibly have a car, or you at least have access to a train or bus. You'll be sat in warmth as you read this. And I'll bet my ass you can find the money for a glass of wine once or twice a week, unless you're one of those strange, freaky alcohol abstinent people. I'm just kidding!
A great life isn't it.
You go to work, you come home; eat, drink, sort the house, kids and/or pets, kick your feet up, relax, watch somebody else's life on TV... Then do it all over again the day after! Then the real fun arrives... Your two days! Whoop whoop! WEEKEND!!! (Shift workers, just relate will you!) If you're one of the few without children, you let it all hang out! And if you're fortunate enough to be blessed with the spawn of hell (yes, children) then you get out and about; perhaps a walk in the park, a visit to the zoo, a trip to the cinema. I mean, what a life you adventurous, crazy ass you!
Yup, I can hear your thoughts... "So what are you implying you arrogant idiot!" Well, nothing really.
But have you ever looked at a fish in a small aquarium and wondered "Does she enjoy her minimalistic life?" Or how about a rabbit in his hutch, alongside his small perimeter of turf if he's one of the lucky few... Do you think he's living life to the full? More importantly, does HE think he's living life to the full? Okay, so now you're thinking "No, of course not you dumbass, he's just a rabbit."
And I can also hear the screams of "but he's comfy, not at risk, he eats daily, shits in a toilet (or a regular spot at least), is cleaned, petted and loved!"
And I agree!
But is that it? Is he a happy rabbit? I mean, what I'm really trying to get to the bottom of here is this - Does comfort = Life? Does your daily routine make you feel like you've lived? You're fed, warm, not hungry, almost undoubtedly loved by somebody, you have good sanitation, you have access to healthcare and even to almost free education as and when you choose - on this vast internet, if nowhere else.
That moment you imagined so vividly just a few paragraphs ago... Did it consist of your access to the internet? Did it consist of your journey home to hoover the carpet? Or even your visit to the local park that you have planned for the coming weekend? Or if you're the raving mad weekend bash type, did it consist of a night out on the town?
No, it didn't did it! It's a strange world isn't it! We spend so long striving for comfort... and yet when we get there, we can be ever so... underwhelmed. I get it! We all want to prolong our lives, to live forever, to beat off the diseases, to hold on to the safest option because we're so damn scared of what the alternative is! But is a handful of true 'LIFE' moments enough in the vast and extensive period that we call our lives?
You see the times in my life that have stuck with me are the one's that have been the riskiest! Jumping 90ft from rocks into an unknown abyss below, travelling alone to areas of the globe that brought uncertainty and fear, skiing off a slope at speeds no human being should ever be able to reach, watching the birth of my first born, swimming in the open sea miles away from shore and feeling the true ferocity of the ocean's currents and her creatures!
What have all these things had in common?
I was going through hell on every single occasion! I wanted to scream on each and every occasion... In truth I did on one or two of those occasions! I wanted to curl into a ball and cry! I wanted to be at home, safe with my cup of tea, my cats, my fish, my rabbit, my food, my toilet! (Yes, you'll never find a toilet like your own!) I wanted it to be over at once!
But I've never learned so much about myself, about the world and about the irony of comfort as I have in those moments. You see true life is found in challenging times... In fear... In uncertainty... In unpredictability!
So what am I proposing... I'm proposing that you face every damn fear that you have inside of you! I'm proposing that if you don't like flying, you jump on a plane at the earliest opportunity, or better still book a parachute jump... I'm proposing that if you're scared of sharks, you book a trip in a cage... I'm proposing that if you have a fear of spiders, you can simply start by picking them up and popping them outside... I'm proposing that if you have a fear of what others think of you, you go to a nudist beach and do your thing girl!!! For these are the moments that you will remember forever more! These are the moments that you will smell, taste, feel, and hear for the rest of your life! These are the moments that will scar your mind with an outrageously beautiful tattoo!
But jumping out of a plane is dangerous... Travelling abroad on your own is dangerous... Swimming in warm ocean waters is dangerous... Skirting a cliff edge is dangerous... Touring through a tropical rainforest to find a hidden gem of a beach is dangerous... Hell, these days clambering up a 3 foot ladder is considered dangerous! What the hell has become of humanity? I mean we can die in the process of doing just about anything; be it driving to the local shop, or climbing into the mouth of a volcano! But it doesn't stop us going to the shop does it? If it does... Are you truly living, or just breathing, eating and shitting? Perhaps you like that rabbit hutch or aquarium? Damn, if you do, don't let me put you down. You live it up you crazy ass twat... I am of course referring to a pregnant fish.
And that brings me nicely on to my final point.... that fish in the aquarium. Has she felt fear lately? Has she searched far and wide for food in fear of starvation? Has she had to hide deep and low for fear of being eaten by a predator? Has she strayed into a mate or a school with similar avoidance tactics? Has she explored outside of the lake to a nearby river to ensure the survival of her offspring? Is she alive? Or just living?