Monday, February 21, 2011

An Appropriate Level of Danger

If I could do anything I wanted right now it would be this...I would spend a week by myself in a secluded cabin somewhere in the mountains doing nothing but reading, writing, fishing, and thinking. There would be no TV, no cell phones and atleast once during the week I would intentionally put myself in harm's way just for the sake of doing something dangerous. Maybe I would hike somewhere at night and get lost and have to make it through the night without freezing to death. Or maybe I would attempt to climb some rocky cliff that I had no business climbing, something, anything to make me feel alive.

There's something crushing about a normal life. It's as if after a while some sort of mold starts to form on the edges of the safety-net we work so hard to build under our lives. We live in safe houses and drive ever safer cars. We have back-up plans for everything..nothing catches us off guard. Every detail of our lives gets planned to death to the point where devine visitations have disappeared.

Sometimes when I have time to think I become fascinated with the idea that the reason Western Man is so neurotic is because he enjoys too much comfort, that Man is not meant for comfort, that facing and overcoming danger is the energy that powers the human spirit. Perhaps we feel so ordinary because modern life requires no heroics. Some would say, "Doug, you're crazy! Competing and winning in business today is VERY heroic. Look at you...you have a nice home, a successful business, great car..all the comforts of life..and you started with nothing!" True. And yet none of the agonies and ecstasies of success in business can compare to the strangely magnificent mortal fear that gripped me as I was being prepped for open-heart surgery 8 years ago next month. Nothing before or since has made me feel as alive as the nearness and possibility of death.

I have a wonderful life with much to live for...so I have no death wish. All thats missing is an appropriate level of danger..and maybe a week alone in the mountains with my thoughts.