“One, Mississippi, two Mississippi, …., ten Mississippi, here I come, ready or not!” The funny thing about life is that it does not actually give a countdown. It just comes at us, ready or not.
We spend so much time preparing to live a life different to one we are currently living. One that will make us healthier, wealthier and happier, that we forget that the countdown life gave us ended the day we were born. From that moment on, life was out there looking for us, the game was on and sooner or later we would get found. In the game of life, we can never really be ready, and we don’t have time to hide. All we can do is turn and face life full on.
What does it mean to live? Monty Python asked the question in “The meaning of life” and Douglas Adams determined the answer (to life) to be “42”. Their satirical comments might be on the money as one philosophy says its “all artificial”. Humans engineer an existence to keep themselves busy, but in the greater scheme of things our efforts are insignificant and largely a waste of time. Traditional landowners such as the Aboriginal nations of Australia and the Native American Tribes understand this point better than most. They do not claim to own land. Rather they acknowledge that, at best, they are custodians of the land and that the land will continue to exist long after they do. Our time here is short and all we can hope to do is try to leave the world in a better state than how we found it.
The question of whether we are here by the hand of a deity, or because a couple algae spore decided to play “house” fifteen billion years ago is only relevant to the people who lean towards the either end of the spectrum. Truth is, most us don’t know whether we were once a cockroach or will be a cockroach in a future yet to come. There are a few folk that claim to know, but as we don’t know whether we should believe them or not, it makes their view binary at best. They might be right, and they might not be. Time may tell.
In my view, life is beautiful and should be embraced. This includes all its challenges, all happiness and all pain. This brings me back to hide and seek. What happens when life finds us? According to the rules of the game, you are ‘found’, and it becomes your turn to seek and life’s turn to hide.
It is not easy looking for life. Life is a master at hiding. It hides in our career, in our daily challenge to put food on the table. It hides in our choice to go without as we save money for a rainy day. It hides in the broken relationships we continue with because somehow, we feel safer in the relationship than without it. It hides in every instance we say “No” to an invitation. It hides in unfulfilled ambition; it hides in the fear of the unknown.
It is obviously very important to find life. The alternative is a little morbid.
I don’t know what it means to find life any better than the next person. What I do know is that life can only be found by each of us individually, and it takes courage and a willingness to “experience”. To allow ourselves to have an experience. It is our individual choice to love, cry, watch a ball game, laugh, hope, feel excitement, care or to despair. Finding life involves putting ourselves self out there – shouting ‘Life, here I come, ready or not!” Then to look in every nook and cranny for new adventures, new love, a new career, new friends. We can only live if we allow ourselves the chance to live, if we take our turn at being “the seeker” and looking for life with enthusiasm. By avoiding emotional highs and lows and declining opportunities for excitement and fear, we are refusing to play the game – refusing to seek out life. flat- lining. Funny metaphor that. No highs, no lows, no life.
The fundamental reality is that the game of life never ends. Once we find life, we are exhilarated by the joy that it brings but it invariably means that it is our turn to hide again. As we get older, we get better at hiding and it takes life longer to find us. The longer we hide, the more we get comfortable with our surroundings. Our fear of change grows stronger and we wrap our comfort- zone around ourselves to make it even more difficult for life to find us. If we hide for too long, life might just get bored of looking and leave us hiding. We may need to leave clues to our whereabouts, such as connecting with old friends, or joining a club, or just having the courage to accept the next invitation that comes along, allowing other people to guide life to us. It’s a circular logic; once life has found us and we once again become “the seeker” we must once again step up and take our turn to seek life. Life seldom, if ever, hides in the same place twice. Generally, this means finding a new love, a new career, a new path, or just the courage to say “Yes” to new opportunities and unexpected invitations. To go out and find life in new and unexpected places.
Looking for life is uncomfortable and difficult. It frequently represents change and trying something new. We can ask our friends to help us find life and for the most part we will all seek the same life, but for the last part of the search, each of us has to go it alone as we are the only person that can find the specific version of life that we seek.
Finding life gives us energy and looking for life does not mean looking for a new you. Rather it means, that when we find life, the old you will shine just a little brighter and when we shine a little brighter, life in return, will find us a little faster and the game will be a little easier and the laughs a little more frequent. That’s really all we can hope for. To love well, laugh often and be willing to let life find us and embrace all the joy that it brings.