Thursday, October 2, 2014

Are you a box checker?

When asked what surprised him about humanity the most, the Dalai Lama replied, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Truer words have never been spoken. People get so caught up in "checking boxes". Living life from one task to the next causing their life to become regimented, predictable, and mundane. It's a wonderful thing to set goals and look to the future, but some get so focused on where they are going they don't stop to enjoy where they are now.

One of the reasons we end up as box checkers is because it's comfortable. We fall into that familiar rut, and we can zone out on life. I find I don't do well in this mode. I become devoid of joy, happiness, and zest for life. I crave a mix up. I crave something new and different.

There have been many times I've headed out on a trip with very few plans. Didn't know where I was staying, how I was getting there, or who I was going with. The most memorable trips are the ones that become adventures. I recall one evening riding motorcycles through the Smokey Mountains with some friends when it began to get dark. We started looking for a place to stay and every place was booked up. We finally stumbled upon a place that rented small cottages. The owner, a very gruff retired Navy SEAL, looked at us and asked, "Ya'll ain't queers are ya?". We looked at one another, and replied "No". Then he said, "Cash only". None of us had much cash on us, so we had to go find an ATM, in the middle of nowhere North Carolina. We sourced some cash, and were given the key to our cabin. I don't remember anything else about that ride, but I remember the challenge that faced us and how we overcame it. We lived in the moment.

Structure is not a bad thing until it reaches a point where we are no longer able to tolerate ambiguity. When things like "laundry day" get in the way of us spending time with friends or family. When "I have to get up early tomorrow" forces us to leave an event early. When we let life get in the way of's time to reevaluate how we're doing things.

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