We've all heard that age old saying that sometimes you can't see the forest because of the trees. That you have to back up a bit or remove yourself all together to get the whole picture. Well, that's exactly what happened to a friend of mine after leaving the big city of Vancouver for more than a decade, to settle down in a much smaller community for a more sedentary way of life, sitting back and putting your feet up, so to speak. When we were younger in our thirties, both of us were party animals.
After about a year my buddy dropped into town on business. We met at our favourite watering hole which miraculously didn't have that same feel as it once did. There were no more familiar faces, no friendly smiles of by-gone days. Only a year had passed but I noticed the difference not only in the place but him. He was more down to earth, relaxed and not so obsessed about sex and money, or who was going to win the Grey Cup, as he once was.
While we were talking about my friend's new life he mentioned something that really caught my attention, he said, "I really feel like I'm living, now. I can afford things without going out on a limb, I can drive anywhere without thinking of traffic, I go to the lake to unwind, I don't have to compete with a million other people just getting up in the morning to go to work."
Then it came to my turn, I left the big city for a smaller town outside Vancouver. Now I know what my friend was talking about. Not that I didn't like the big city, but I had gained a better perspective on the life I was living. While I was living-it-up in the hustle bustle of the big city, I realized, I wasn't living at all, I was only surviving and if I would have kept it up, wouldn't have survived much longer.
The stresses, the inconveniences and the cost of living in Vancouver all were becoming too much for me to take. Why I put up with it for so long; the long line ups, fighting the crowds, living from paycheque to paycheque, only to maintain my prestigious address in the West End, which now that I look at, isn't so prestigious as I once thought it was. In those days, it was one big continuous anxious moment after another, dodging miscalculations and gambles. Forget about living a life, just crossing the street, you took a chance.
Being present and surviving just to witness another day isn't living at all. To truly live you have to take full advantage of your environment and the opportunities that come your way. It is the wise man that can step back and decide which category he want's to be in; either living or surviving, and to be able to adjust so that he or she might possibly get the most out of living, instead of letting living get the most out of you. Food for thought.
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