Friday, December 03, 2021

Understand You Only Live Once

 As I have mentioned before, I have become quite a fan of Vic Verdier, trainer and just general all around interesting thinker (@vicverdiercoaching if you are on Instagram).  He had another thought provoking post that I duplicate in full here from his post "Understand You Only Live Once":

"For the first time in centuries, life expectancy in men in the Western World is decreasing.

Not because we do stupid and dangerous things but because we eat too much and live a life of comfort and ease.

It’s time to wake up, do hard things, move, be hungry and realize that comfort and convenience are not what life is all about.

It’s time to start a new life made of resilience, risks, hardship, travels and adventures.

It’s time to move, be cold, be hot, be tired and be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

It’s time to live with a purpose that doesn’t involve climate control, Netflix and online shopping.

Real life is out there, not in virtual reality. Wake up before it’s too late and you die in fear."

You can perhaps say a great many things about Vic, but his ability to inaccurately tell the truth is not one of them.

He is right, of course.  If you think about the world as it is portrayed today - or at least the world that is present as the ideal "life", it is the "safe and sane" one of fireworks fame:  go to school, get an office job (by the saints and martyrs, not a trades job or - gasp - "manual unskilled labor" or agriculture), live in a safe modern urban environment with all the conveniences and everything within a 5 mile radius.  Adventures, if you have them, should most be through viewing exciting things on the InterWeb or steaming or "Games" (that is the wave of the future, you know:  e-gaming) or from carefully monitored and safely managed activities that are within cell phone tracking range.  Anything remotely dangerous or uncomfortable (or out of cell phone range) should be eschewed.  Any risks, of course, should be the safely managed ones.

Now, I suspect were to ask Mr. Verdier, he would hardly suggest that what he is proposing is to live a life that by default is uncaring dangerous and foolish - which is where some folks, those one who are proposing we should all "safe" lives, would immediately go.  "If you are not for safe, civilized living you are for The Dark Ages" or something of this nature.  Because in our modern society, this is all that we have allowed for anymore, modern existence or a completely and total abandonment of all reason.

This is not inherently to argue that we should all give up on our lives as they are tomorrow morning, drive to the middle of nowhere, and start living in a yurt (although that does have a certain appeal).  What it does mean, I think, is that at no matter what point in life we find ourselves, it is worth asking a simple question or two.  Like "Am I seeking out challenges, or settling?" or "Is this something I am just doing that I could push the envelope a bit on?"

It could be something radical - like, for example, taking a long hike.  Or something as mundane as deciding you will rise a bit earlier to establish a clear work out schedule.  Or even something as simple as working a bit in weather you would rather not do so in.  The important thing is to be willing to try to expand that bubble, even if just a little bit.

Most people in the modern world would rather read about or watch adventure or pretend it comes in an vicariously lived through a game - as if, ultimately, one's fingers and one's eyes and one's imagination are any substitute for the actual doing of things.  There are a lot of things one can experience through those mediums, but it will never compare with the experience of accepting the challenge and living the experience by one's self.


  1. Anonymous2:34 AM

    Spending overnight trips outdoors with your home on your back is adventurous enough I think. My rurals here are pretty flat, but thick with thorny vegetation so the exercise is bending under and around the thorny growth. With a weight on your back, its a relief to stop and make camp.

    I enjoy watching the TV series 'The Last Alaskans'. Those folks are living their life to the fullest, and surviving out there is a challenging activity. If they don't find or make food there, they starve out. All in an environment that have animals that eat THEM or will freeze them solid.

    1. Oh, I should think there are permutations to be had and it is not an all or nothing experience - and frankly, bending over with a pack was not one of my favorite experiences with my first hike. And I do not know that I have quite the gusto to handle being completely 100% survive or die (yet). But at least by our activities, you and I have some sense of what it is to push ourselves out of our comfort zone in a way those that never try do not.

  2. As things have dried up and peeled away around me this year, being alone to find out who I am has been quite the adventure. I rise at about the same time every day, and work on what I can until I'm worn out. Sometimes exhausted like I've been wrestling alligators... I'm learning that I still have a very good memory, and there are folks who NEED my skill set. And there are skills that I NEED and have yet to acquire. The near future is behind a black curtain, and I have no idea where I will be or even if I will be six months from now. But I try and look at it as an adventure, because it is! A year ago, that would not have been doable. Sometimes revitalization is the removal of dead wood.

    1. STxAR, you and my dear friend Vera are inspirations: Faced with health and other challenges that have completely upended your lives, you have persevered and discovered new and different ways to thrive. It is very encouraging.

    2. "New and different ways to thrive..." Oh no, I think that is the same definition as a virus! ;)

    3. Sort of I suppose STxAR, yet. Adapt and overcome or perish.

  3. While I agree that everyone should get out and take more risks in life, I have never bought into the argument that one should do so to live longer. Sure a life of easy might decrease my life expectancy on average a year or two. But do I really want to live 40 years going hungry and working hard for that extra two years... on average? I'm all about the quality of life and not about the quantity.

    1. I am with you, Ed. I have some friends that are a few years my junior, and they are pleading with me to go out elk and sheep hunting with them... and I thank them for the invited but gently refuse. I am too old now, and packing an elk out through murderous terrain puts me square in heart attack country. There was a time I would have been champing at the bit to go... but my time in the field is pretty much over.

    2. Ed - Yes and No. Inherently long life is not necessarily better life, but withdrawing completely is not necessarily a good option either, at least physically. In that sense the great philosopher Mediocrates is in favor: All things in moderation.

    3. Glen - The Cowboy (gentleman who keeps cattle at The Ranch) this year went up to Montana to be able to go with a friend on an Elk hunt - not that he hunted, but rather that he just enjoyed being in the field.

      I completely get knowing one's limits. At the same time (as the Grand Canyon Hike proved) one has to push them now and again to find out what is truly possible.


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