Today I found myself wondering about how to live… Six weeks after handing in my Masters dissertation I’m naturally searching for the hidden meaning in life and dark matter. Naturally. I was asking because part of me had no idea. Dreams in the night were coming hard and fast about what I would do with the rest of my life, while memories of my poor little on-hiatus blog nibbled on my heels. Then I watched this.
I thought of all my fellow graduates in the immediate aftermath of graduation, and the relentless questioning from family and friends about what we were all going to do now.
I suppose I wasn’t asking about how people live, but rather how can one live every day? What is living? How does one get up in the morning? How do YOU do the same tasks repeatedly every day until it is your last day? I’ve asked this question for as far back as I can remember. As a child I used to wake most mornings before school with either dread or questioning. The dread was largely down to the fact I hated the school system with every fibre of my being, but I suspect that was more to do with being yanked out of one school and into another after my parents separation (queue the violins). What child wants to explain themselves and their newly changed circumstances that they have little to no understanding of to a gaggle of pre-pubescent 9-year-old girls who have judgement at their very core? Anyway, I digress. Back to living and the question of how to.
Even at the age of 9 and probably long before that, I found myself regularly questioning how I would do this FOREVER. This, being living and sleeping, waking, eating, doing, learning, walking, talking, being and breathing etc. How? What’s the secret to ignoring the boredom of repetitive actions? How are you to make decisions for your future when you don’t know what it holds? And therein lies the answer. We cannot. We cannot because there is only now. You can only do what is right in front of you, in this moment, this minute, this hour, this day. These micro-decisions become your past and form your future, and there is no secret sauce to living. There is only doing. The rest is planning. Good old fashioned planning. The physiology of our bodies require basic and rhythmic routine to work at optimum levels – eating, sleeping, waking and exercise. The rest is what you choose to add. If you’re fortunate enough to have a bed to sleep in and food to eat, then the world really is your oyster.
Perhaps all this time I was always asking the wrong question. Perhaps I should have been asking ‘how do I do’? How can I push myself? How can I drive myself every day of my life? How can I learn more about myself? How do I keep personally developing? Perhaps the answer is ‘just do’! Do sleep, eat, talk, go, travel, smile, exercise, walk, care, challenge, breathe, and wake. Do wake up with a sense of purpose, your purpose, your passion, your ideas, and your opinions. Just wake up. Open your eyes to the road ahead that you cannot see but can only envision. Forget dreaming, just visualise it. It’s there for the taking, but in order to get there you have to first wake up every day, and brush your teeth, and dress, eat, smile, talk, walk, travel, work, play, pay bills, stress, de-stress, love, laugh, hurt, cry, grow, re-build, remodel, rejuvenate, and reinvent. Because this, fellow graduates, young, mature, and more mature, this is living.
Whether you are a graduate of life or academia, there is only one foot in front of the other. Your feet and nobody else’s must move. If your feet stay where they are in the warmth and cosy snug of what you know, there will be no growth, no fulfilment, and no living. Life will just happen to you and around you and pass you by. The answer I wish I had heard over 20 years ago to my question ‘how do I live’? – Living is making life happen, not life happening to you. Try not to over think your future. Just make it happen. And remember, failure is part of the process. As the saying goes ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.
To all life’s graduates and the graduates of 2013 and beyond.
I declare How to Survive Humans and Earth reopened for business!!