I find myself thinking more and more about what kind of life I want to be living. Perhaps it is due to my age and the speed by which the years continue to fly by. It seems like I’m only living about one out of every three years that go by on the calendar.
I often find myself referencing an event as happening a year or two ago that actually happened five years ago. You know what I mean. What happened to those “lost years”?
There’s a definite disconnect between the life I perceive I’m living and the real one, at least in terms of time. Freaks me out a bit. I realize that at this stage of my life, I cannot keep doing this or in very short order there will be no time left. Gads!
I came across the following quote from the movie Braveheart that has prompted this article.
“Every man dies, but not every man really lives.”– William Wallace
Sometimes I read statements like these and am provoked somehow emotionally. Then as I reread it, I wonder what it means. It’s as if I detect the potency of the statement but can’t seem to grasp its full scope or meaning. I seem to recognize its relevance emotionally, but can’t seem to specify its implication for me mentally. Like, it slaps me to pay attention but gives me no clue as to what to do with it when I do.
So, I’m going to drag you along as I think out loud about this for a moment here. One more time, sloooowly - “Every man dies, but not every man really lives”.
Ok, I get the first part. Everyone dies eventually, and often sooner than expected. I look over the obituaries every morning and I’m guessing that people dying in their twenties or even in their fifties weren’t expecting it.
Of course, it’s possible that those dying in their eighties and nineties weren’t expecting to die either. Maybe we never expect it when it actually arrives. I haven’t talked to dead people a lot to confirm this, however. But we all recognize conceptually that we will eventually die.
That’s part of the angst we feel, I think, as we get older. A sort of unconscious recognition that the exit is closer than the entrance.
Anyhow, got that part. It’s the last part that is vexing me – “not every man really lives.”
Which man hasn’t lived? What kind of man hasn’t lived? Why hasn’t every man lived? How has he lived who hasn’t really lived? Hmph. Am I that man?
You aren’t really living life if you’re not living your life. Oh boy, where am I going with this….
You aren’t really living your life if you’re living someone else’s life. Duh! Seems obvious.
You aren’t really living your life if you’re living so as to avoid your fears. Ohhhhhh. Maybe I'm onto something here.
Let me say that in another way: You aren’t really living your life if you’re living defensively.
We humans are pretty fragile, at least emotionally. We are hurt or damaged pretty easily. We don’t like feeling insecure, exposed, vulnerable. Very uncomfortable. Some are more this way than others, but it seems everyone is this way to some degree.
I don’t like the feeling either. I also don’t like it when I detect that my choices are driven by this or that fear, this desire to avoid those moments, those situations where I feel too vulnerable.
I suspect most of us are less than what we project, but more than what we fear we are. Over the years we add layers to buffer us from these perceived vulnerabilities. We seem to be able to hide ourselves from ourselves and to live in the suit we’ve created.
While we may periodically suspect that the life we’ve been living isn’t real, that it is a matrix of sorts, we seem mostly comfortable in the world we’ve created.
Our suits have kept us safe. That has to be counted for something.
After all, not every man has to really live....
Note: This blog simultaneously posts on 4060men.com.