„You keep asking, will life be better, or will it be worse. But let’s be honest and one thing is sure: life is and has always been dangerous ” ( Erich Kästner)
Of course there are many more or less clever sayings about life. Including this: “Dying is not the worst, but never having lived”. At this point, everyone may judge content and interpretation based on the own situation, but in principle – as the corona pandemic proves – there is some truth in it.
At least the “big rethinking” seems to be en vogue; you may also call it reinvention. Basically it is surely correct to check your aims and positions from time to time whether they need to be adjusted. But you shouldn’t throw everything away that has worked well quite some time and you should not believe everything without some reflection that appears on the sreen as being popular (mainstream) – simply spoken: the way somebodyelse wants you to be. Reflecting, independent critical questioning, staying alert, is my most important maxime of life.
In the following context, however, I rather like to ignore (at least to a certain extend) the actual views and effects of the corona crisis. Instead I would like to talk about a major general question of being, which everyone has probably asked him/herself from a certain age on:
If we could live our lives again, how would we live and would we change anything? Of course you are always smarter afterwards, but it is never too late to “jump out of the hamster wheel” either now or then. Because there is always more than one solution or optional decision. Sure, there is rarely a MUST to do something, but the possibility of being able to reflect and choose something consciously, characterizes life for me at any age. Anyway, the fullness of life is often a question of personal experience. This incudes even marginal moments, such as a sunrise or the glitter of a frozen lake.
I have asked myself this question many times and can say for myself that I have never regretted anything or missed something. One of the reasons being relevant to me in this context, I recently read in a treatise regarding “intensity of life”. Here the Spanish poet Jorge L. Borges is quoted as saying: “If I could live my life again, I would risk much more. Of course I had many wonderful moments, but … “ My interpretation of this thesis is: life is always now and I can state for myself that I have always been driven by the longing for an intensive life (according to my own wishes). Many resent me for this behaviour and like to accuse me of selfishness and (unjustified) dissatisfaction. I like to oppose this critics with Goethe, who said: “Man(kind) is wrong as long as he/she/it strives”, because only that ensures progress and development.
However, living more intensely also means tackling certain calculable risks or challenges when discovering the unknown. In retrospect, according to a study most adults do not regret having made mistakes, but rather not having done certain things or missing opportunities. Be it spontaneously or according to (life) planning.
Let me give you two personal examples: When you are asked by your employer at the age of 34 (watch my short haircut) whether you would like to transfer into a position of the Mexican subsidiary for two years, it means a great business challenge but also to give up a lot of your previous well-structured life, like your residence and friends. In my case, I was even responsible for my spouse, who even gave up his lawyers practise and sold his office space in order to accompany me to Latin America. Of course, we were not one of these emigrants of certain TV-series, who – I bag your pardon – couldn’t even manage their lives in Germany. This was a unique opportunity and once in a life-time experience, secured by a large pharmaceutical company. Nevertheless and interestingly enough, most of our friends commented this offer with “oh God, do you have to go there?” … no, I was allowed to go there working abroad – a good example that the striving of people is so different. We both have never regretted our stay in Mexico and consider it one of the best times of our lives (not only because watching the “Voladores” was an adventure).
Years later, on a trip through Meck-Pom, we passed a small sign on the side of the road reading: “Today tank driving in the Damerow barracks, take the next right”. What an open-air fun for just some EUROS respectively a donation for the “fleet museum”. Event agencies offer such an event for over EUR 100 per person. By the way, bruises were included, because these vehicles are made of iron and steel and are not upholstered anywhere. They also move faster than you think and you are shaken up and down depending of the terrain. Yes, driving with a tank is not essental for life (well, what is really a MUST?), but actually we only got there because we got lost without a streetmap. A “hint of destiny” …
To my understanding an important source for life intensity is curiosity and motivation. Because recognition and search are essential on the path of experience. The desire to experience something new is at least as sustainable as financial rewards. Because it usually involves coping with (unpredictable) problems, which strengthens self-confidence and triggers feelings of happiness. From a medical point of view, so-called neurotransmitters such as dopamine are released in the body. When I tackle something new, I always call it “creation of a few endorphins”. Nevertheless it should not be mixed with an absolutely nerve-wracking or even illegal adrenaline rush, because a healthy level of safety and security thinking, provision and a reliable environment are also essentials for quality of life. Selfconfidence is the antidote to coping with the fear of the unknown. And often fear threatens to ignore pleasure. In addition, the degree and duration of satisfaction is largely determined by the intensity of an experience.
In summary, this also means that the fullness of life lies in the experience of the extraordinary, regardless of whether it is just for a moment and/ or looking back on what has been experienced. Of course, this may also include unpleasant adventures that can result into traumatas.
In any case, it is worthwhile for us Europeans to leave the “individual comfort zone” from time to time in order to – hopefully for joy – hear our heart beat again. Especially mountain peaks are always referred to as “power places“. Clearly: there are no mystical magnetic fields or trolls. You are just proud having reached the top up there and are allowed to enjoy the magnificent view – that is exactly what gives you strength. And finally – in my opinion – only those who have a true (personal) comparison can make appropriate comments and judgments.