We each have a border – an event horizon in our existence – that we cross over and over, back and forth throughout the course of our lives. When we’re within the border, we’re completely taken up with the day-to-day details of our lives and the associated headaches and heartaches that go with them. But when we can escape that part of our lives and get past the border of our day-to-day, we gain perspective on our existence and can see the big picture. In this state, we are significantly less impacted by what is happening around us. We’re aware of it, we respond to it, but we are not controlled by it. Some people live their whole lives within the border of the day-to-day – they have a limited perspective and they are unable to step back and take a deep breath. Others have learned to live beyond the border. They engage and they take care of business, but they don’t allow the details to control the flow of their lives or their emotional landscape. If you can be aware of this border, you can learn to live beyond it and control your existence.
New people are easy. You meet them, you chat, you get to know each other—there’s no long-term baggage or expectations. There’s also no lingering bad blood or long-term irritants. It’s a fresh canvas and you’re both painting. But as time goes on, you develop a history. Much of that history is likely very good—you wouldn’t stay connected so long if it wasn’t. You may have periods where you don’t see each other that much, but when you do get back together it seems that no time has passed. You pick up right where you left off. You have a true and solid connection with each other, and it’s part of who you are. But there are also elements of the relationship that aren’t ideal. It may be a personality quirk that irritates you (and irritates you more over time). It may be a certain belief or opinion they have that doesn’t jibe with your worldview, and they have to bring it up. It may be some incident in your past that’s hard for you to let go. The relationship is not all wine and roses, but ultimately, no relationship is.
Imagine a world where you could have anything you wanted, any time you wanted, for as long as you wanted. When I was a kid, I thought that’s what heaven must be like, but in time, I came to realize that it’s a more apt description of hell. Why? Continue with the mental exercise. Choose something that you love, make it unlimited, and take away any challenge or effort required in getting it. It will invariably lose some or all of its appeal—nothing would be special anymore. Of course there are nuances to the question. Does having an unlimited supply mean you have to accept an unlimited supply? Something might only lose its appeal if you imbibe it constantly. Ultimately, our trade-offs and struggles are a necessary part of a fulfilling life. Without them, life would be less meaningful and less happy.
Some people, as they move through life, begin to feel out of touch. It may start with the interests of younger people—music, apps, gadgets, etc.—and extends to a general feeling of being left behind. But it’s all a matter of perspective.
As you get further down your path, you should feel more and more confident, and increasingly trust your judgement based on your experiences. It’s not necessary to like, or even be aware of, every new trend. You should remain open to new ideas or experiences, but should not worry about those that don’t interest you—don’t think that you’ve become irrelevant just because you’re not engaged in the latest rage. Develop a balance between what’s known and comfortable and what’s new and different. And trust yourself to know what you like.
So many of us engage in activities to get a reaction, or to make money, or to feel loved. But what are the things you do because you love doing them? What do you do just for yourself—because it gives you pleasure or is meaningful?
Our motivations for what we do with our lives are worth exploring. They can provide a filter through which we can evaluate how we spend our time and may lead us toward a more rewarding set of activities. For example, we all have to make a living—that is a key motivator for most people—but would you pursue your career if money were not a factor? If not, how else would you spend your days?
What you do with your time outside your job should be as important and intentional as your work. Are you just filling the hours, or are you getting something back? What activities would you engage in even if you didn’t get any external, positive benefit? What activities do you do just for you?