Well I did it. I stayed off of Twitter and Facebook, and away from my work email for two weeks, and I enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m not adding any of that back on to my phone. They’re all on my iPad, but I don’t carry that around with me the way I do my phone.
I read a lot, exercised almost every day, and consumed far too much sugar. I spent time with family going to an art gallery, our local jazz club, tubing at a place here in the city, cooking, playing games, going to movies, and again, consuming way too much sugar. I enjoyed it all a great deal.
I also found a show on Netflix called The 100, which is based on the teen dystopian novels of the same name, and watched more than a little bit of that. In one episode, one character says to another, “Life should be about more than just surviving.” They of course were talking about life in a world where nuclear weapons were used on a large scale about 90 years earlier, but I think the sentiment is a good one to remember.
While many people in the world right now are just trying to survive fires, wars, starvation, slavery, disease, and other horrors, I suspect that most people reading this blog aren’t, so I want to talk about more than just surviving (but if you’d like to help people struggling through the fires in Australia, please consider giving to the Australian Red Cross). For me, surviving often looks like getting out of the house on time to catch my bus, figuring out what I’ll make when it’s my time to cook and when I’ll get those groceries, when I’m going to spend time on a particular work project, and other things that I’m lucky to have to worry about instead of whether we have access to clean drinking water.
At some points in my life, however, surviving has been about forcing myself to get out of bed when I’ve been dealing with a bout of depression. Several years ago, when I was going through some difficult things I said something to my wife about surviving to which she responded, “I don’t want you to just survive, I want you to thrive.”
Surviving for many of us is getting through our to-do list, but shouldn’t life be about more than that? I just spent two weeks focused on non-to-do-list type of things, and it was great. I was definitely living and not just surviving. In addition to the fun things I did with family and reading some good books, I also reflected on the past year and decade, and did some dreaming and planning for 2020 and the coming decade as a whole.
In one of my favourite movies, the classic Auntie Mame, the main character says, “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”
I want to try to remember and to live my life in a way that goes well beyond surviving. I want to have fun and grow. I want to contribute to the world in ways that make it a better place so that a lot fewer people really are “just surviving” wars, disease, weather, etc. I want to help and learn from others. I want to bring passion to whatever I’m doing. I want to enjoy the view and the smell of the flowers.
At the end of the decade I want to be able to say that I fully engaged at the banquet, but maybe not having quite so much sugar.
Featured image courtesy of Liberty Mountain under a CC-BY-SA license. Note, the hill in Saskatoon is much smaller.