“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
As I write this, there are 7,168,667,849 people on our earth. And that number is growing every second. More than four billion people have been born into this world, including myself, in the past fifty years and it is estimated that our population will grow by nearly another billion in the next ten years (UN stats). That’s a lot of people for one world growing smaller as globalization realises itself more and more.
In modern day, it seems that the daily happenings of our lives are worth sharing every hour. Right now I can click open Facebook and find out what my buddy – who I haven’t seen for over two years – just ate for breakfast. I know where he’s partying, which girl is sharing his bed, what he thought about yesterday’s news and even better; what everyone else in our combined circle of friends thinks about his thoughts. Ha. That all sounds like a negative rant, but it’s really just an observation of our digital reality.
I’m sure that Socrates, in his halls of philosophical thought, didn’t imagine this evolved state of social media and exchange. Yet his words seem to hold application and value in modern society. Our own lives, the lives of our friends, and those of our friend’s friends are being examined daily, in an intricate and highly connected web of who-knows-who. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, but it’s definitely food for thought.
I’m twenty-two years old. I’m an almost infinitely small fraction of a single percentage of the people on this earth. And that makes me wonder; why am I here? It’s so easy to get caught up in your own life, in your own status, image, needs, wants and ideas, but at the end of the day, what does it matter? You’re just another number that makes up such a huge collective of humans on this earth; all consumed individually by their own lives. I think, “relax, don’t worry about it and just enjoy yourself…” But then one does have to remember; we are different to all other living creatures on this earth, for we are able to think about being here. We’re not simply waking to the new sun every day, collecting food, eating food, and repeating the process the next day, with a little bit of reproduction thrown in here and there. We are able to think, to analyze, to examine, to improve and I guess that is a tool most of us should use a lot more often – myself very much included. And hey, you may as well, because otherwise you’re just another one of those clones that make up that incredibly large number of humans. Progress in life, to me, is important.
Aristotle wrote, “There is only one way to avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing”. But what is criticism? I guess the common definition is negative feedback, which in itself I find most often, from those who I respect, to be conclusively productive and positive. Negative feedback, like positive feedback, allows you to learn, to realise what you’ve done right and what you’ve done wrong, to teach you how to live your life differently and better in the future – that’s progress and evolution.
Getting back to the point, my generation has revealed itself to be the generation of social media. It’s a generation of readily available beta on each other’s lives, and leaving feedback. Our digital world allows us to see what our friends are up to, write comments and ascertain how our own lives should be lived – but therein lies a potential flaw.
Without sounding too arrogant, the world I live in is pretty good and the people I mostly surround myself by are pretty unique. I’m lucky to have friends and mentors, at the top of the game in the world of “extreme” sports. Daily I see what these guys and girls are up to, in our high-definition world of social media. As great as it is to open up the laptop and be inspired by the latest progression in canopy and mountain-related sports, or whatever else for that matter, it’s also pretty dangerous. I recently lost a friend who died to “get the shot”. It made me think about everything I’ve just written about.
I spontaneously left New Zealand not long ago, to step back and gain some perspective. I felt myself more and more, needing to push my own limits with a camera attached to my helmet. With the sports that I enjoy, pushing it a touch too hard past your own skill-set has big consequences and the mountain environment that we play in adds essence to that. Not long before making this decision to step back, I made a mistake that left me very lucky to have only a broken rib and thumb. The crazy thing…right after that I pushed it even harder. That for me was the beginning of warning signs. Chill the f$% out was probably the answer, but that’s easier said than done sometimes.
And so the past weeks have been a steep learning curve. I’ve seen in many aspects how I shouldn’t be living my life. I’m far from perfect and aware of it, but how you learn from mistakes and improve is completely beneficial to being a better person. Like I say, I value progress in life highly and feel good when I improve on things. I guess that’s a fundamental reason for pushing things to hard and fast. It’s important to chill the f%^ out and moderate that progress level sometimes.
I now know that I am doing what I am doing for the right reasons, for passion and enjoyment simply of the act. The greatest lesson I have learnt recently is how important your friends are. I climb and fly because it gives me a huge kick, but there is absolutely nothing better than sharing those moments with good people.
Our world is quickly expanding and at the same time globalization and social media is bringing us closer together. For the record, I think it’s a good thing. Friends, family and the people that you chose to spend your time with are everything. I feel happy and often inspired by having a positive, creative, varied and progressive group of friends. And it’s pretty cool to be able to see that and talk about it every day.
And perhaps there isn’t really too much thinking to be done after all. Maybe it’s pretty simple. I know for a fact that there is no better feeling than playing in the mountains, ocean and air and doing exactly that with good, positive and smiling people.
Smile and enjoy the daily happenings, spontaneously and without expectation or limit. Improve yourself as a person. Go hard and go fast, but think about it first. Share those experiences, but don’t get too caught up on the lines in between. See you at the bottom!