I’ve often wished that life was more exciting.
I wish it were more thrilling—like it is in the movies. In books. Especially these past few years. Growing older, I’ve realized how dull daily life has gotten to be. Heck—as an experiment, I’ve even started recording the hourly interactions I’ve made all throughout the course of the day, and at the end of the week I had planned to compare all seven daily recordings, hoping to spot some variance, or lack thereof. On day three, I trudged through half of the day, and tucked the notebook back into my bag. There was no point in continuing.
Leafing through the last couple pages of the book, the truth was already evident—I was living the same day over, over, and over again. What was the point in recording the rest of the days’ ‘events’? I already knew what was ahead of me. That was certain.
I am an individual—valuable, cherished, loved. I am an individual, with my own erratic creativity. My own quirks. I gravitate towards my own esoteric quips, comrades, dreams. So, how is it that I practically live the same schedule as six-hundred million other human beings? How strange that we all complain about the weekly grind, then collapse into Sundays with a sigh and an apprehensive yearning for more?
Life was meant to be more than this. There, I said it. Otherwise, how could there be movies this stifling, novels this engaging—characters created from the real-life imaginings of people, just like us?
We should not stay confined. We should not stay conformed. Do not adhere to the hushed, unrelenting law of ‘living solely for the weekends’—at this rate, you’ll be wheezing on your deathbed before you can even process this article. We are spontaneous, free-spirited beings—organization is a necessity for survival, but when it comes to living and dreaming, it is true to say that some things are best left turbulent in possibility. Let not our feeble aspirations be sequestered behind some mental barricade. You want excitement? Freedom? A good story not only to tell, but to live?
How about we take a step back. Let’s look at this from a familiar, objective viewpoint, a shifted perspective.
Just like the character in your favorite television series, this is you: just your Average Joe. If you’re a student, you’re a student—you get loads of homework, you hate Mondays. Some of your teachers are cool, and you love seeing your friends. You work hard, sweat and bleed through it all. University awaits!
This description could apply to thousands. Most of you may realize that once upon a time, you fell into this generic five-sentence biography. Now, here is another.
You’re an adult (age is irrelevant). What matters is that if you don’t get that paycheck, you can kiss that roof over your head down to hell. Rent flashes crimson on a weekly basis. Your coworkers are friendly, for the most part. Perhaps you like your ‘job’, though the work can get tedious at times. Too tedious. Sometimes…all you want is to escape.
Here comes the part we all know best, but have little personal experience in. Something completely unexpected happens. The student witnesses a street-fight on their walk home from school, and attempts to break it up. Worker-Bee takes a sick day, and while walking along in the park, he stumbles across a mysterious package left on a bench, unattended. These characters lives are about to get a whole lot more interesting.
It doesn’t seem like a lot of drastic change occurring. Okay, the guy found a package. What if he decides not to find its rightful owner? Exactly—the story would end right there. But here is the choice that determines it all: Will he leave it sitting on the bench and go about his day, or will he try to chase down the stranger who left it there? A simple thing like this leads to a whole other chain of events, and while the first ‘event’ was hardly any change at all, if he never took that sick day and plucked his eyes from his laptop to go for a brisk stroll, he wouldn’t be helping some kid run away to Reykjavik after he’d gotten into trouble searching for his cousin’s squandered travel manuscript. Gradually, the choices build upon one another—and the change hits him like a meteor. This character is now officially deserving of an anime theme song.
My point. We weren’t put in this world to be thrust into a set schedule. We, human beings, have created time, for crying out loud. Monday is simply a word. Your checkerboard calendar could be torn to shreds in an instant. Life can be exciting—and it is. Unfortunately, when everyone fails to realize this, or fully acknowledge it, it is so hard to live on the edge. If everyone in the world is operating under this weekend-crash cycle, then who is there to put the package on the bench? (It’s a metaphor. Bear with me here).
So, how to bring that rarity of zest called “living” back into existence?
I don’t mean you have to throw a party for no reason, or buy your girlfriend some chocolates when it’s not any commercialized holiday. Do not feel the need to force it. Simply let the spontaneity come to you.
When confronted with a choice, go with the option that is more unexpected, the one that is most unlike you.
Here is an example.
A few weeks ago, I went on a walk in this lovely little park near my house. I was just nearing the end of the loop around the green, and spotted a man huddled in a dark coat on a bench by the path, immersed in a novel. Immediately, a dozen thoughts crossed my mind:
“He looks like a bookworm. Bookworms are cool people. I wonder what he’s reading. Should I stop to ask him? What if we got into a really good conversation about books? No—just keep walking. What if the man’s a rapist? What if he’s grumpy? What if he’s deaf, and I look like an idiot attempting to make conversation with him? I’m tired, anyways—there’s no point in stopping. I’ll make a fool of myself. People don’t just walk up to strangers and start talking to them.” On and on.
Somewhere amidst these thoughts, I made up my mind. It wasn’t easy. I repeat: It. Was. Not. Easy. I felt especially unlike myself. I was sweating madly, legs stiff, chest retracting a hundred times a minute. Still, I went up to him. In a meek voice, I asked if I could sit beside him. He let me. After a moment of (very) awkward silence, I inquired about his day. He inquired about mine. So led to the best two hour-long conversation I’ve had in months. We ended up discussing everything ranging from classical novelists to our pets, politics, climate change, writing, music, and random things that we noticed in our own strolls throughout the park.
Sure, the guy was at least forty years older than me—forty, or more, years worth of experience, of knowledge. But age did not matter. I’d made an actual friend. For me, it was a big deal. I’m shy. Awkward. Reserved. I was confronted with a choice. If I had sacrificed my comfortability in my own personal bubble for a moment of social incompetence, this day would’ve been just another chip in the grand drag that is my existence. By choosing differently, it didn’t.
The choices you face may not always be obvious. They will slink into your thoughts so unexpectedly, so capriciously at times. Opportunities will not always be presented to you from someone, or something, else.
Spontaneity is not some gift, not anything that one can perfect over time. Spontaneity goes hand in hand with the choices you make.
We are all capable of catching a thrill, even if that means just the thrill of meeting someone new—but it’s up to you, only you, to choose to act. You can’t wait for something extraordinary to happen to you without first taking the initiative in making it happen. Even a musing so small as, “Should I make plans with friends/Grandma/brother this week?” is a very significant choice for you to make.
Be the one to put the package on that bench. You put the possibility, the opportunity, out there for others to engage in, and soon, more will follow. Soon, more excitement will be in the air, more mysteries will be unearthed, and more friends will be made.