Living vs. Existing

“I never tried to make the best of my time when I thought that I had plenty of it” – The Phrase That Pays, by The Academy is….

Are you living? Or do you just exist? Just so we are all on the same page, here are the definitions from my desktop dictionary…

Living – the pursuit of a lifestyle of the specified type
Existing – have objective reality or being

So I’ll ask you again, are you living or existing? Do you drag ass through out the day because you don’t find excitement in what you’re doing? Are you putting off a passion project or a business venture because you’re afraid of failure? If you even thought for a second about saying yes to one of those I suggest you take a quick look at what your doing with yourself.

Since getting my commission and graduating in December I walked the path that was expected of me. Going out and using my degree at a “prestigious” college to get my foot in the door with some company was the “first step towards success”. From there they would stick me in a cubicle and toss me a phone book so I could dial for dollars. This, according to some people, equates to the “time in the trenches” that would lead me to a management position where I could be the one tossing phone books at newbie’s. I imagine I’d approach that part of the job like Drill Sergeant Butler approached handing out our bi-weekly ration of toilet paper in basic…hurling them as hard as he could while screaming “If someone else catches your roll you are SHIT out of luck! And that pun was 100% intended!”

Ok, back on track now. I go to Basic Officer Leadership Course Phase II (BOLC II, or OBC for you old timers) from May 10 – June 26, BOLC III from July 5 – October 9, and a 10-day classes required by my unit soon after that. The unit has also been tapped to take over a mission in Kuwait for 6 months and is looking for volunteers. This includes about a one-month train up starting around December. All told, this will be the longest time I’ve ever been away from upstate New York.

When I first heard about the mission I pretty much blew it off. I wouldn’t classify Kuwait as the “sandbox”, but you know that little berm that would build up outside of your sandbox because you were so damn messy? Yeah, in my mind that’s Kuwait. It’s not as sandy as the actually sandbox, but it’s also not as lush and inviting as the patch of grass that Lady Gaga chose to just dance on.

Bad analogies aside, I’ve done missions before, but 2 weeks in Oklahoma and 2 weeks in Wisconsin don’t exactly compare to 6 months in Kuwait doing live fire drills. Needless to say most of my family and close friends didn’t know what to think about me volunteering to go to the Middle East. That caused me to start running through what horrible things could happen if I went. It started with innocent things likes missing my little sisters 16th birthday, missing out on time with friends, and not being able to get my business plan finalized and implemented. But then things got darker. What if the mission was changed when I get there and I end up in combat, what if someone grew a set of balls the size of bowling balls and attacked the post I’d be at, what if my plane crashed over the Atlantic.

Are those fears rational? To a certain extent yes. But I realized what I was doing by justifying them; I was confining my self to existence. Confining myself to staying where I’m comfortable and “safe”. Being paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, the fear of embarrassment and the fear of failure is no way to go through life. Paraphrasing from Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Workweek…if you’re putting off something because your afraid of what might happen, take the time to plan out the WORST POSSIBLE outcome and how you would rebound from it. More often than not that outcome is so incredibly unlikely that you’ll feel stupid for letting it paralyze you, or you’ll realize that it will not set you back as far as you thought and bouncing back will not be as difficult as you thought.

So at the very worst I could be killed or injured. Not exactly the easiest to come back from I know, but the odds are pretty slim. On the flip side I go over and get to see a part of the world I’ve never seen before, get to be around a religion/culture that piques my interest, make some money, advance my career and learn from others who are going into and coming out of theater. The way I see it, staying in the cubicle would constitute existing. Venturing out into the uncomfortable and the unknown is more in tune with the life I want to be living.

Stop existing…

Start living…

Attack the lifestyle you want.