Life’s Messy. Get Out and Live It.

One day while hiking on the Appalachian Trail, I passed a family that was just starting on the trail. The little girl was grumbling about how scary it was out there on the brightly lit, well traveled outdoors. She was being dragged up the path and let everyone know that she was not enjoying the heat and bugs.

Life’s messy and uncomfortable. If you want to live it, you’ve got to get sweaty, tired, hungry, angry, hurt, and confused sometimes. Sitting in a sterile, climate controlled environment looking at a box that beams you entertainment is not living.

Nobody learns how to live in a comfortable box. Yet that is how many of us rear our children today. We give them so many comforts that they don’t know how to be uncomfortable. We give them so many privileges that they don’t learn discipline, delayed gratification, or the value of earning things. Kids grow up learning job skills at the expense of life skills so they don’t know how to care for themselves, relate to other people, or solve daily problems.

The United States is second only to France for depression rates. Higher income countries have more depressed people than lower income countries. So why are we racing to get that fat paycheck, advanced degree, and sterile life? Is our time better spent on other things? I think so.

Like what? The things that make life messy. What does that mean? The messy things are things that make you feel, you could fail at, scare you, require patience, stillness or discipline, or are hard. Messy things often require courage and have no guarantee of a return. Here are some suggestions:

  • love
  • relationships
  • cooking
  • invent useful things
  • create frivolous things
    make music
  • make love
  • clean up messes
  • give thanks
  • feel your feelings
  • meditate
  • play
  • dance
  • pray
  • honor the dead
  • help others
  • write a love letter
  • try something new
  • grow things
  • solve problems
  • grow yourself
  • listen to the waves crashing
  • go fishing
  • sing
  • share yourself
  • eat good food
  • get outside
  • gaze at the stars
  • cuddle a puppy

Lots of people long for money, fame, or a partner to help them cope with fears. These fears are things like not having enough, not being enough, or of being alone. When you do the things above in a mindful way, they help you to grow beyond your fears. This way you are never a slave to them. So you are free to live a life of your choosing. What we choose when we live beyond fear is often connection, intimacy, growth, and giving. The things listed above can give us that.

We all have our own ideas of what constitutes a perfect life. At the end of the day, most of us care more about the love we give and receive than what we’re wearing, our address, and our degrees. Those things can beautifully fill a space, but they don’t fill our hearts. If you want to live an inspired meaningful life, let life inspire and mean something to you. Get out and see it, engage with it. The best parts of it are free.

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