As I grow older, I’m starting to loosen my grip on my life. When I was young, I was very hardworking, high-strung and felt like any moments of little control or structure were to be avoided. Now, not so much.
I’m learning to take life (at least a little) less seriously.
Taking life less seriously means finding more of a balance between controlling, planning and working hard while playing, going with the flow, and taking uncertain risks.
I say taking risks carefully because again, with age, I’m learning that there’s a difference between taking a leap of faith and taking calculated risks. It’s important to do things that you’re unsure about if it makes you happy or could lead to a fruitful, dream-achieving life, but you also need to know how you’ll survive no matter what may happen.
As Liz Gilbert says, “Be child-like in the pursuit of life, not childish.”
But let’s talk about the “child-like” part. I believe it’s important to maintain balance, as I said, but people like me can sometimes struggle with the other end of the balance: play, curiosity, and experimentation.
We all have to be a little more attentive to our interests and curiosities. I think some of us can get scared about taking uncertain roads or walking a path that is in a completely different direction to what we expected or wanted.
Like, if I suddenly were interested in being a gym instructor, I would probably dismiss it because I’m so sure that I want to be a writer. To follow some other path, even a little (like as a hobby) would seem like a personal betrayal, or that I’d derail my whole life.
But really, it’s not that serious!
Choosing to do something, or try something, does not mean you must stop everything else. I could always gym-it-up while still writing. If (weirdly) I started loving the gym more and got certified and took on clients and suddenly I didn’t want to write anymore, then so be it. As long as I was happy, what would be the issue?
I think it comes down to expectations and the vision we have of what our lives are going to be. If something new comes along that’s unexpected and seems completely out of character or mismatched, we dismiss it for the fact that it “doesn’t fit in with the life plan“.
But what if that thing, that curiosity or interest, was destined for you? What if it would have changed your life for the better; made you and your loved ones happy and fulfilled and full of life? But you just dismissed it because it was odd…
I get it, it can feel like a waste of time or a call for shame and pain if it goes wrong. But truly, think about it, what’s the worst that could happen? As long as there’s not a chance of death or homelessness or something tragic, then what’s the harm in pursuing an interest just to see what happens?
If it fails or doesn’t work out, you do something else.
If it works out and you love it, you’re living life happily!
Seems like there’s no real pitfall, to me.
Not very often are we told to just go for it. Our parents and teachers want stability and security for us, naturally, and so things like playing with life and being curious and going with the flow, aren’t usually words they utter when giving advice.
And so, allow me: if you’re feeling out of balance, out of alignment, lost, or unmotivated and unfulfilled, you should try to experiment with life more. Play with it, have a “love affair” with it (as Liz Gilbert says), and follow your curiosities without fear.
How to experiment with life:
- Be more creative – creativity is for everyone and comes in many forms
- Any thoughts, interests, inspiration, intrigue, or passions? TRY THEM!
- Ever wondered “what if?” or “wouldn’t it be cool to…”? Then do that thing
- Don’t let others tell you what you must do; don’t live by other people’s rules
- Have a foundation of safety (security, don’t put yourself in awful situations) but try out whatever brings you joy
- Get a hobby – it’s important to have more than just work in our lives
- Meet new people, take in other ways of life, other opinions and perspectives
- Get quiet and still and pay attention to what you may be desiring underneath all the hecticness of your everyday life
I love hearing how other people live. Reading characters with cool jobs or quirks. It’s fascinating as a typical woman with a typical family, to hear the wonderful experiences that other people have frequently that would be so out of the norm for someone like me.
Like working with wild animals every day. Travelling to irregular countries like Paraguay, Estonia, or Greenland! Living in a home-bus. Having a rich heritage with a fascinating culture that involves wonderful festivities and traditions.
If you choose to play with life, you, too, could have a great story. One of wonder, limitlessness, freedom, fun, and beauty. I have to say, one of my deepest fears is a boring life. One where each year is the same. One where I’m not excited to wake up. One where someone else dictates what I do each day. One without dreams or hope or meaning. If playing with life helps to avoid this, I will do it more often, that’s for sure!
Let go of the wheel and see which road may take you to something fantastic…
Experiment with life, follow your curiosities, play the game and see what you may win by living life with abandon.