By the time I wake up, the sun has already begun to rise and cast its morning rays through my southeastern window. The sun is warm as it passes through the glass and onto my face. Everything is blurry as I blink and use my knuckles to wipe the sleep from my eyes. Staring out the window I can see the leaves and branches in the trees swaying past the sunlight almost making the sun flicker in my eyes. As if the birds were distant, the walls of my room make their songs muffled and I can barely hear them, even as I lay silently in the dawn.
Rising from my resting place, my mind spends a moment trying to remember what happened last night. Like an old rusty train, it takes a while to pick up speed and undertake the difficult replay of memories from a night that seems to have been a dream, so far away. Not because of its splendor, or because it was all that great, but just because I lose my thoughts of yesterday. They seem so fleeting anyways, might as well not spend too much time pondering them.
Throwing back the covers I attempt to rise up from my resting place, but as I look back at it I am drawn to return to it. It seems so inviting, so promising of peace. Its warmth begs me to return, to just lay down a little longer, spend a little more time in its presence. Its so persuasive that I, just for a moment, relapse back into a state of grogginess and once more lay my face into my pillow’s soft touch as it reminds me that the world of dreams is so much better a place than reality.
At least there I can walk under an eternal sun, never more hot than I want it to be, a place where it never rains more than it needs to, a place where wishes come true only if you mean them, where friends never die and enemies never live. A place where my hands never lose their grip, where I can marry Cleopatra, climb Mt. Everest without true effort and fly without wings anywhere I want. My bed promises all these things to me, if I just give it the only thing it wants… my freedom. It begs me to spend my life in its company, never leaving, never waking from my slumber.
Then as I’m about to grant it that very promise, I realize that a life of perfection, would be the worst life to live. The neurons in my brain fire a signal to my arms, back and legs. Slowly, but surely, I rise up once more, beginning the battle of daily life, not because I have to, but because I choose to. The muscles in my body strain, and I awaken fully to the day that awaits my presence. I know that it will require effort and I know that there will be more choices to be made, but none as vital as deciding to live…
In life, I have come to expect nothing, because every time I do, it always changes and I am proven wrong. But to give up on trying to understand life, would give me nothing more to look forward to. This is me, this is what I have chosen to seek out. Understanding life is an endless road, but perhaps that is what calls me unto it, maybe that’s what makes me get up and carry on. I try everyday to contemplate something new, to investigate its existence, its truth. No stone should be left unturned, live with no regrets; that whole cliche has a lot of truth to it. I know, not in my mind, but in my heart that to make a decision not to undertake something that calls you forth, merely because you fear it, will only leave you wishing that you had in the end. Perhaps that is what I fear the most, to move on in life having not done something and regretting it always gives me this empty feeling. But knowing that the only moment you have to undertake that task or trial has passed away, those are the regrets that hurt me the most, the ones I fear enduring.
So many times in life I have made the decision to not do something and after it is all said and done, I am left in the dark full of regret and I know that I have made a mistake. A man’s greatest fear is the hardest thing he will ever have to overcome; my greatest fear is having to make a major decision and then making the wrong one. It’s what has held me back so much in life. It’s a wall that, at times, I don’t think that I can climb. For as much as I speak of doing the right thing, finding courage and faith, for all the writing I do about living life the right way and having an open mind, it is so difficult to actually live those things. I’m reminded of the Frog vs. Toad scenario. The frog is quick and courageous, he doesn’t waste his life thinking to long about anything, he is all about action. The frog leaps before he thinks. The toad on the other hand is slow and curious, he doesn’t do anything without contemplating the positives and negatives, he’s a thinker. The toad thinks before he leaps. I’m definitely a toad, but in life I find it necessary to be a frog also.
This chapter, Knowing the Road Ahead, is all about how to look ahead to where you’re going and what to expect. A lot of life is spent on looking back at our pasts and sometimes even reliving them, if only for a moment. What we don’t always do is learn from them. As we re-examine our pasts we are able to see patterns. These patterns allow us the unique ability to change the course of our futures, maybe not entirely, but enough to steer them clear of regret. By studying what has been and applying those facts to our life, by comparing what has been to what is, we can discover the path our lives will take. In this way we can restructure our tactics and adjust our methods appropriately, so that we can live our lives without regret to the best of our abilities.
Breaking life down into a day to day comparison, we can see how similar each day is. This is especially easy if you live your life in a routine! Everyday we are offered moments or we find ourselves in situations where we can change our lives. Some of these things can lead us to a better life and some of them will lead us to chaos. In my life I find that more often than not, the situations that I fear, the ones that I try to avoid, end up being rather nice, once I find the courage to undertake them. With this pattern in mind, I have forged myself a tool, one that can give me two outcomes. A) I can learn something from life that will enhance my sense of being and ultimately reforge my life’s purpose, or B) create for me a chance to learn the pains of life that, in the end, make you stronger if you take them in stride or if you don’t find courage, will lead you down a very dark road. Whether or not you are willing to take this chance is 100% up to you. As I see it, to make a mistake and learn from it is better than never having made the mistake and thus never having been able to learn from it. For me, learning from life (the good and the bad) is what living is all about.
The most difficult part of grasping those moments in life is finding the courage to actually embrace them, if not at times – seek them out. I know as well as anyone that the road of life is the hardest one to partake on, but if there’s nothing else that I could say to encourage you to actively pursue the journey of life, then let it be this, “It is in the trials and fortunes of the human experience that we come to discover the truth of life, in every tear and every smile we are enlightened a little more on the human condition and as we open our minds to the heart of mankind we are endowed with the most great peace that no facade of darkness shall ever breach; but first in order to do this, we must rise up.”
This essay is available as an audio track on SoundCloud: