There are a lot of different ways of understanding the word “live.” In its most basic sense, it’s purely a state of existing: if you’re breathing, if your heart is beating, you’re living. But in another sense, living requires more than merely existing. If all you’re doing is breathing, that’s not living. Living requires experiences. It requires doing things. It involves thinking about things and affecting the world around you and making choices. You can choose to just be, or you can choose to really live.
And in between those two extremes, there’s a whole spectrum of “living.” Toward one end, there’s spending a lot of time alone, and toward the other, there’s constantly being around and involved with other people. One end is mostly observing the world around you, the other is actively working to change the world around you. One end is passive, the other is active. And each of us needs to decide where on the spectrum we want to be.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to be at one end or the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages. One end takes more risks and is therefore more dangerous, but with a greater chance of a big payoff. The other end is safer and more peaceful, but lacks the adrenaline surge of the first. Who is to say that one of those options is intrinsically better than the other? For one person, the fear of the danger is more painful than the reward of the possible payoff. For another, the excitement of the possible reward more than offsets the security of not risking the odds. Where on the spectrum you choose to live should be determined by your own unique set of scales.
And yet, it’s healthy for all of us to explore other parts of the spectrum. The more cautious among us can benefit from taking the occasional risk, and the daredevils among us can benefit from trying out a more passive role now and then. The cautious livers may be missing out on some excitement, and the risky livers may be missing out on some serenity. Until you bring yourself to actually try another role, how do you really know it’s not for you?
So try moving around on the “living spectrum.” It doesn’t have to be a huge jump, just a little nudge to one direction or the other. Try something new, whether “new” means more risky or less. Break out of your usual box. Push that envelope.