“No one ever finds life worth living – one has to make it worth living” ~ Winston Churchill
To remind readers, this is the last in a 5-post series that has been my answer to an email from a reader I’m calling “Maria” who struggles with depression. See Part I here, Part II here, Part III here and Part IV here.
And so I present my dear email friend (and any of you with similar challenges), 14 reasons to “keep on keeping on.” If the 1st post was all about throwing out a life-line to the drowning, this one is meant to provide you with reasons to kick your feet.
14 Reasons to Live
In a way this list can be seen as a suicide note in reverse. I don’t mean to make light of such things, but to suggest a set of reasons why life can be chosen, why one might write a letter to the world, claiming the reasons the decision was made to live.
Reason #1: Life is an Adventure
I learned something valuable about life while on a 16-mile hike in the Narrows at Zion’s National Park a few summers ago.
Most of the hike was in ankle to knee-deep water. Early in the trek, the rocks were clean enough for good traction.
But later in the hike, everything became slippery with moss and algae, making each step a risky proposition. I fell. A lot.
At other times we were forced out of the water, up steep embankments in search of a way around some impenetrable bend in the winding river. At several spots along the way, we had to literally swim before we could get our footing again.
Mosquitoes bit and shins banged against rocks below the surface of the river. By the end, my feet were blistered and 5 toenails eventually fell off.
But there were also stunning rock formations and breathtaking scenes of pristine beauty. In places, the river was flanked on either side by 500 – 1,300 foot sandstone walls, from 40 to 100 feet apart. They were imposing and impressive.
I realized that life is a lot like that hike. It can be hard and painful, even damaging … but it can also be one of the most beautiful experiences imaginable.
The reality is that it’s both experiences at the same time. While I was banging my shins against submerged rocks while stumbling forward, slipping on the moss under unsteady feet, the place I was slipping in was profoundly, sublimely, even sacredly beautiful.
It simultaneously hurt and inspired. My reaction to it was the result of that part of the experience I chose to pay most attention to. So it is with life, even when it hurts. Life is a marvelous adventure … if we are open to seeing it that way. There were some in our group who vowed to never go back again. I’m eager to return
This is the difference: I felt the rocks and the blisters and the ache in my legs. But I experienced the profound and sublime beauty of the moment because that’s what I chose to see.
And so our pain consumes us when we focus on our pain. But it is softened to the degree our hearts and minds are filled with the beauty that surrounds us instead as we focus on other parts of the climb.
Reason #2: Things Change
Life does not stand still for very long … even when we would like it to.
The economy expands and contracts, weather changes, relationships evolve, we age, people are born and die and others move away. Prices change. Incomes change. Memories change. Style and fashion and trends come and go. Bear markets follow bull markets and politicians flip and parties flop and life moves on in an incessant ebb and flow of undulating activity.
So while life is changing all around us, under us, above us, everywhere, at all times, we can take confidence in the prospect that we will change as well. Our feelings will change and our lives will change, even if it seems we’ve been stuck in neutral for a long, long time.
And, in the end, it’s good that life works that way. Changelessness is really stagnation no matter how large or small the pond is that stagnates. Eventually it all leads to the same contamination. So in the long-run, change is good. Even essential. That knowledge can keep us going when things get monotonously difficult to bear.
Reason #3: We Change
I am not the same person I was when I was 14. I am not the same person I was just 5 years ago, for that matter.
We learn. We grow. We experience people and places and cultures and ideas and beliefs and circumstances that call us to take steps into the unfamiliar and unknown. We expand and evolve and stumble and fall, and get back up and step forward again.
That’s the way things were meant to be. That’s how we develop into the people we were meant to become. That’s how we can discover the parts of our lives that are like barnacles on sides of ships, creating drag, slowing us down. That’s how we can make headway into our own personal development.
The process can be slow, but it can be very exciting as well. So ignore the guilt for not being where you think you should be and get excited about traveling uncharted territory into your own life.
Reason #4: There is so much to Learn
If life feels flat and lifeless, turn off the Xbox, TV and computer and go learn something new.
Develop a passion for learning: about life, others, yourself, relationships, the world, what makes it tick, what makes people do what they do. Get passionate about learning why nature and the human body and the cosmos acts and functions the way it does. Open your eyes to the universe and let it take your breath away.
Yearn to know the mysteries behind that universe and its Creator. Hunger to know about music and art and success and love and history and science. Let the world and its people and life inspire and fascinate and excite you.
There is so much to learn, to explore and to know and so little time in which to do the learning and exploring and knowing. As you cultivate a desire to know, you may also grow in your desire to live as long as you can to increase the possibility of learning as much as you can.
Ideas matter. Seek to understand those ideas that matter most.
Personal Note: I haven’t always had the passion I now have to learn. At first, I forced myself to read because I knew I should. But the passion grew directly out of the doing.
So, peak your interest in things by reading and watching educational material, by going online and finding information about topics you want to start learning about. Get curious. Explore the world of ideas. Perhaps you can start here: TED Talks. But whatever you do, start!
As you become increasingly passionate about learning and experiencing all life has to offer, you’ll find less time to soak in the dank liquid of sorrow and more joy in living as you discover the joy of finding most of life deeply interesting.
You may have noticed my list of 14 Reasons fell woefully short of the promised number. Well, yes and no. Yes, this post failed to produce. But no, because the next two posts will finish off the 14 Reasons as indicated in the title.
Tricky? Not meant to be. Deceptive? I suppose, but not intentionally. It was just too long and so broke the thing into three pieces. Effective in getting you to come back? The boat is still out on that score.
Still, my passion for life is in the movement of it. Life is in constant motion. I want to tap some of that motion and see where it takes me. My hope is that you can be inspired enough here (or in one of the next two posts in this sub-series) to take some kind of leap of faith into the roiling waters, and float down river a bit to see where it takes you.
The changed scenery may be enough to excite something in you to take the next step, then the next, and to start to see in life a marvelous glow about it, something that draws you deeper into the wonder and glory of it all, and away from its darkened corners.
Please let me know either way.
- What makes you passionate about living?
- What gets you up in the morning excited to be alive?
- What moves you?
And please Like this post if you found value in it. Much appreciated!