There are three sayings that I've come across in my years that have stuck with me and have had a huge impact on my thinking and, subsequently, my life. These sayings have tremendously influenced my thought processes and the way I look at things. Without any further ado, here they are;
1. The only way to know where a boundary is, is to cross it
I couldn't tell you where or when I first heard this saying. All I can tell you is that there was something about it that resonated with me and it keeps me, to this day, testing my own limits.
I guess I was practicing this saying well before I even heard it. It was not unusual for me to be going left when every one else was going right.
I've been pushing my own physical and mental boundaries, as well as boundaries with other people sometimes. There are times i haven't pushed boundaries enough, while other times I have, unfortunately, pushed them too far.
After working almost 20 years for the same company, they did what corporations seem to do these days. Being near the top of the ladder in time served, I was given the option of being moved to a different department and taking a pay cut or taking a voluntary lay-off. Thinking it was a good time to make a change, I chose the latter and to take my chances in the unknown.
I took a year or so off and found myself going down numerous rabbit holes of research trying to absorb everything I could while I had the chance.
This (among other things) led to my girlfriend, Betty, and I selling our home and almost all of our possessions and taking to the road to live the nomadic life over four years ago. It's a journey that we are still on.
We had a little bit of a plan, a mission, when we began this journey. While that plan is still at the core of what we do, the entire journey has been altered.
The thing is, we are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for, both physically and mentally.
Don't let anyone tell you what your limits are. Don't even listen to yourself because until you have pushed yourself to the breaking point you can't honestly know where it is.
And even then it must be asked; is it an actual breaking point or is it a point that I somehow predetermined that I am not passing?
There is a difference.
The only way to know is to cross that imaginary line.
2. What if I'm wrong?
Again, I couldn't tell you where or when I initially heard this question. I couldn't tell you who said it, either. That's a shame because this may very well be one of the most important, yet overlooked, questions of all time.
When you take the human experience and break it down to its simplest form, as we have done, it transforms you.
When you let go of who you think you are, but are not - when you upend your life and your entire world on purpose - when you intentionally put yourself into a world that you are not comfortable in, when your limits are continually pushed and uncertainty is the order of the day...that's when you begin to discover who you really are.
Things become very clear when all of the outside voices are silenced and when there is nowhere to run to and no way to escape.
I've had most, if not all, of my thoughts and beliefs challenged. I have challenged many of them on my own. See, everything around us is constantly changing and even science is learning more about our external and internal world every day.
Yet we cling to the same thoughts and ideas and beliefs year after year after year.
I think we need to challenge our beliefs from time to time. All of them. Otherwise we may be just dancing with dogma. We can question every thing and every one around us, but do we ever think to question ourselves?
Doubt, although it may be uncomfortable, keeps us looking for answers.
Certainty, as comfortable as it may seem, causes us to stop looking.
I believe that one of the most important and overlooked questions we can ask ourselves about any thing at any time (with unfettered honesty) is, "what if I'm wrong?"
3. As long as you live, keep learning how to live
Okay, I do know where this saying came from. I am not a stoic or a philosophy major but this saying is attributed to the Greek philosopher, Seneca. At first it seemed like an odd saying and I had to sit with it for many moons before it began to take hold in my thinking.
What does "As long as you live, keep learning how to live" even mean??
There are always things we don't know about the things we know.
When we think we know, when we think we have the answers, we stop looking at things with curiosity or wonder.
We stop asking questions and that's when we stop learning and growing.
We go from evolving to simply revolving.
We all want the truth, but to find the truth we need to find the mistakes in our own thinking. And therein lies the most difficult, the most challenging, the most life altering struggle of all.
This journey/adventure that Betty and I are on has left me with a lot of thoughts, many of which I am still working through. Like all great journeys, this one has answered questions that, in the beginning, I didn't even think to ask.
It has also raised many more questions.
Life, itself, is a journey.
The human condition. Life.
It's about so much more than myself or my opinions. It seems to be more about how we look at things collectively. If that's the case then maybe we all need to do the dirty work, the scary, the unpleasant and uncomfortable work of looking deep within ourselves first.
The one thing that I can change, that I've always been able to change, is myself. As the saying goes, every one wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves. I think a little introspection can go a long way.
Never stop learning.
Never stop questioning.
Never stop doing.
Never stop seeking.
Never stop exploring.
Pic by Coffee And A Map