A life well lived

“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”

-Samuel Johnston

I’ve read different blogs that address the idea of living life as if you had only one year left to live. Or a month, or a week. How would you act? What would you do differently? What would you change? Rewiring the brain in this way reinforces the impermanence of life and the importance of living each day to its fullest. Living in the moment and making each moment meaningful.

I like the idea of this, it strikes a chord within me. I can say every time I have read one of these articles I am instantly motivated to embrace this lifestyle and live life as if I knew its expiration date. Particularly when the expiration is quickly closing in.

The sensation I get is liberating, it is powerful, it contains a certain magic to it.  Think about how you would change and behave if you knew when you would die.  But the fact is, we’re all going to die. We all have an expiration date. This is a given, we all know this.  So shouldn’t we be embracing life and living with this attitude without the artificial expiration date?

I know I don’t. I am guessing I am around the midway point of my life, I have another forty-two or so years left to live. That seems so far off, I can procrastinate, I think,

“I have plenty of time.”

But do I really? The first forty-two have flown by, with time only seeming to pass quicker every day, month and year.

I can say all of this, understand and accept all of this and yet still struggle to embrace the reality of it and live every single day to its fullest. Maybe that is why I find the artificial expiration date so appealing. The idea of it forces me to think about it now and circumvent procrastination.

I know I would act differently if I were told I have a year left to live. I would travel, I would sing karaoke, I would dance as if nobody was watching, I would tell everybody I loved that I love them, I would push myself beyond my physical and mental limits, I would learn to forgive myself.  I would do everything in my power to have no regrets.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver

To write all of this and see it on paper is powerful. The knowledge that all of this is within my grasp is so appealing. And yet, the sensation is fleeting.  I only make it a few days with this new found attitude before I find myself back to normal.

So I am left to think, why?

What happens between reading the article, being motivated and then finding myself back at the status quo in a matter of days?  The easy answer is the knowledge that I have not been given a set expiration date. I feel as if accepting this answer is lazy and only scratching the surface of the issue. True, I know that I do not have a set date, but the energy and inner fire that is created by attempting to shift to this mindset is so great that I feel as if I would never want to let it go. And yet I do.

So I dig a little deeper to seek the truth.

The most common answer that surfaces with this base level introspection is; May 9th.  The day I am no longer under the auspices of the Bureau of Prisons. The day that the GPS ankle bracelet that limits my travel to work, home and the store once a week gets removed. A day of freedom, a day of celebration. The day that my debt to society has been paid in full.

It seems reasonable and exciting to mark this day as the beginning of this challenge. It feels triumphant. It feels like a celebration of freedom and life and pursuing everything I want all lumped into one perfect day. I think anybody reading this would think, “Yes, that is the perfect day to start.”

I feel as though it is an excuse. A perfectly formatted excuse to not act now.

Why do I wait for some magical moment to start something that could be magical?  It is true that I will have more freedom to do all that I dream of doing and seeing come May 9th. But what is preventing me from living life to its fullest right now? The bracelet? Maybe I can’t go skydiving or rock climbing right now. Maybe I can’t explore the amazing city I am lucky to live in. Go visit my family in Connecticut and Florida. Go on a real date with the girl I have been spending time with. Those things are great, no doubt. But they are only facets of a life lived to its fullest. Pieces of a much larger puzzle.

Given my current circumstance I think one way to live life to its fullest means doing all that you can within the confines of your current situation, while at the same time perpetually seeking to blow past the confines you currently have. These confines can be physical, i.e., my ankle bracelet and they can mental i.e., one of the reasons I started 365percent. Challenging myself every day to improve just a little bit, moving past what I define as my current comfort zones.

So while the bracelet may hold me back in a geographical sense, it has no say, no bearing, not a damn thing to do with my greatest asset. My mind. The human mind is our greatest gift.  Our ability to create, innovate and let our imaginations run wild is truly something special. To ask ourselves the question, “What if….” and fill in whatever blank we want and let our minds reach to the furthest corners of the universe trying to figure it out.

And while I feel pretty good about how I spend each day and the time I dedicate to creating, to writing, to innovating, to asking, “what if…?” I still feel as if I want to do more. So the idea of giving myself an artificial expiration date seems so appealing.

Cue the endless cycle and I am back to thinking May 9th is the perfect time to start something like this.

So what gives? Why do I not start now, and pursue what sounds like the way I want to live life?

I need to go deeper than my lack of total freedom. I need to find the root cause of what prevents me from fully embracing this liberating and powerful lifestyle change. I need to understand so that I may do something about it. Because the reality is, even without the artificial date, every day I am closer to death.  Being honest with myself leads me to one word that encapsulates all that I feel.

Fear.

I am afraid of not being able to live life like I fully understood how short it really is.  I fear failing. I fear what my friends and my family will think. I fear appearing foolish. How is it that fear contains so much power when in this instance it is nothing more than a balloon? Something blown up bigger than it should be, and filled with nothing but air. No substance.

How could I fail at trying to live life this way? As long as I try, and continue to try I have not failed. My friends and family want nothing but my happiness. While they may raise an eyebrow at some of this, as long as I am happy they will be happy for me. And maybe I will appear foolish. Who cares at the end of the day? I was arrested by the FBI, my story made the news and I served time in prison. The guilt, shame and embarrassment around that is far worse than appearing foolish for trying to become the best version of myself that I can be. To live this second chance at life with the respect that it deserves.

I would really like to wrap this post up with an inspirational, “fuck it, I am going to tackle this challenge and beat the hell out of it” finale. But that would be a lie. I am still being held back, and I am still trying to figure out “why?”.

Perhaps I need to give up the “why?” and focus on the “how?”

Maybe writing this is the first step, I don’t know.

I’m not really sure I can say this covers my 1% for today. But that is OK. I do other things everyday that cover it. I will write a separate entry about that and how I do my best to cover the 1% everyday.

Thanks,

Craig

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