Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Living Versus Existing

This morning, I was sitting here on my couch thinking, "Man, I wish I had a drill sergeant or a trainer who could really whip me into shape. Someone who could coach me and put the fear of God in me if I didn't set out and do all the things I want to accomplish." But a life coach sounds so...ridiculous. (Though I can't lie, Starting Over was my show back in the day.) I mean why do people need someone else to teach them how to live? Isn't that like being taught how to inhale and digest? I'd ask why living is even an issue for some of us, but I know that humans have attached "living" with a purpose above merely "existing."

Other animals aren't driven by such a desire to travel the world, engage with new cultures, create charitable foundations, amass money and retirement funds, fulfill goals, and overcome personal flaws. They just do their thing until they die: eat, breathe, poop, reproduce, survive. I imagine if a monkey sat around screeching on about needing direction in his life, the rest of the tribe would point him towards the closest pack of hyenas.

But humans have no predators on their backs (other than their own neighbors) and survival is almost guaranteed so we have the capacity and time for idle chat about what we should be doing with our long lives. For us, simply existing to procreate and advance the species isn't enough. Besides, there are plenty others who can handle the job in our place. Perhaps if we were in constant danger, waking up to another day would be cause for celebration and focus. Instead, we have ambition, dreams, hopes, and, ultimately, frustrations when plans fail to come to fruition.

If someone decides that they just want to watch television, go to work, and live out the routines they've set for themselves without ever exploding their bubble or setting their sights on higher, would they be judged for a life wasted? I wonder if it's not city living that intoxicates its residents with an ambition-induced search for more, more, more or the notion that we should jam pack as many experiences into 80-something years so that when we die, what? The rest can say, "She lived a good life?" How would they know? Better yet, would it ever feel like it was enough for you?

Image: etsy.com


  1. I really have a hard time understanding those who have no real passions in life and who are more than happy to stay in one place forever and not leave what they know. I don't think I would ever have enough time to do things that I dream of doing. And I do agree if we had predators chasing us down daily we would probably not have many thoughts of exciting adventures! Great post!

  2. Excellently put. I struggle with this too, because on the one hand I think having children really enriches one's life, but there are so many other things to do also. What's the point of just carrying your gene pool into a new generation, there must be more. I don't know. I've thought I had answers, and then not, and then again thought I'd found some insight.. and then not. haha. My only consistent thought is: I guess it's about the challenges overcome and the insight and awareness that one gains, because I do think you carry those into another life. So it's not about what is wasted or lived, it's about your soul.


Say word.