Learning to Live Ifs

Learning to Live Ifs

I’m lucky.  In terms of human existence I got dealt a low straight.  Sure, there are hands that could have beaten it, but it’s a damn good starting point.  We can all nitpick and wish things had been different, wish our parents had done some things differently, but short of being born into a trust fund, I have no right to complain about my upbringing.

I would guess that of children born in 1982 I was at least in the 95% percentile.  I could have been born into an African slum, or even just a poor family in America in a bad school district.  I wasn’t though and that doesn’t make me a better person, just damn lucky.  If you are reading this, you too are lucky, it means you can read, you have internet, and probably enough food to survive.  You too are lucky.

My life wasn’t predisposed to chasing opportunity, to living if, in fact I would argue that I could have gone with the flow and died socioeconomically equal to where I was born.  I had access to education, schools, connections to quality employment.  If I were predisposed to doing what I should have done I would think life would have turned out all right.

So what was it that led me down this path that I’m on?

  • Travelling.  Seeing people living wildly different lives made me realize there was no one way to live or be happy.  During high school I spent a summer with Amigos de las Americas in rural Honduras.  It was a few months after Hurricane Mitch, and everyone was personally affected, knowing someone who had perished.  Our town had running water, no electricity and no material comforts.  Most people had dirt floors.  What I will never forget was how happy people were.  They were proud of the things they had, they took pride in their community, they were working to make their lives better.
  • North Oaks, MN.  The contrast to where I lived in Honduras was where I grew up.  By no means Beverly Hills, North Oaks is affluent and people generally have all the material things that Americans define success and happiness by.  I didn’t see happiness though.  Generally comfortable, people had a lot and wanted more.  If this was the definition of the American Dream, why were people in Moracito Honduras seemingly happier?  I realized wealth does not imply happiness.

The combination of these two factors made me realize that you can get on the hamster wheel, do what is society respects, have your successes published in the local paper, but that doesn’t imply contentment or fulfillment.  If I didn’t actively pursue contentment, it wouldn’t find me on its own.  I realized that the path for me would be the one that would lead me to whatever it is that enables me to increase the probability of long-term contentment.  I realized for me that meant taking risks, pushing beyond my comfort zone, and working towards each day being able to say, “I have lived life to the fullest”.

My goal is not the destination, but the drive to daily be content with myself, my life, and actions.  The reality in my goal is that there is no destination, there will not be a day that I can say “great, mission accomplished”, put on a medal and be done.  This goal is a commitment and must be a guide for action.  This commitment is to live my ifs, to explore, but also realize that finding what makes me happy and sticking with it is not failure.

So how do you apply this to your life?  Obviously if I had the answer I would charge you for it and presumably you would be grateful to pay for it.

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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