In the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indiana Jones’ father – played by Sean Connery – has been shot in order to ‘motivate’ Indiana to retrieve the Holy Grail, after passing the first two of three tests, Indiana finds himself here… (the Youtube video clip is less than a couple minutes long and summarizes what would take me at least one if not two blogs to write).
“impossible, no one can jump this”
“its a leap of faith…”
“you must believe… boy”
Although we do not encounter literal chasms, we definitely do encounter figurative chasms when we are progressing from being externally motivated, from living life ramped, threatened, worried, or scared and intimidated; to living life inside out… internally motivated, motivated by a desire to explore our potential, by a curiosity of what lies ahead, by a belief that there is a purpose to our existence (beyond the superficiality of making money). This internal motivation leads us on a journey little different than that of Indiana Jones… an adventure which requires knowledge, wisdom, skill, perseverance, determination and commitment.
Today most are living far from being internally motivated, instead living ‘ramped’ on devices which constantly overwhelm with notifications of their ever changing status on social media, ‘ramped’ on diets overloaded with processed factory foods, ‘ramped’ on copious quantities of liquids… from bucket size cups of coffee and coffee flavoured drinks, to barrel sized cans of energy drinks laced with various mixtures of sugars, fake sugars, and stimulants, to ‘ramped’ on the latest trends, fads, and to-do list items that are a must for anyone who considers themselves to be an anyone. As a result, most are blatantly and blissfully unaware of any internal ongoing including internal motivations because life is not lived inside-out, instead it is lived outside-in: a constant fight of keeping up which alternates with a semi-permanent state of anxiety arising from the fear of missing out. To most this is life, that is until things start to break down…
Physical or mental health or emotional stability start to falter. If there is a bandaid available, then its applied as often as possible in order to keep all signs and symptoms of weakness, of fragility, of dysfunction at bay; if not… then the process of awakening begins.
Unable to keep up the keeping up… the ramped individual falls from the orange into the red zone of ‘threatened’. This fall can be such an awakening that it often takes the life of the individual who is startled from their slumber. Living numb to one’s own body and brain function for so long leads some to calling it quits for fear of what life may be like on the other side. Living ramped for decades – as in decades spent in cognitive dissonance to dispel any notion of the perception that their ability to survive is under constant threat – to be all of a sudden awakened and confronted by every one of the threats you attempted to outrun throughout life… can be heart stopping.
Recently I learnt of one such situation: after being diagnosed with the early stages of dementia the person opted for what is now legal in Canada as of 2016: “medically assisted dying” (i.e. suicide with a doctor’s assistance). Unable and unwilling to cope with the consequences of how they lived their life (dementia is after all a lifestyle disease that results from having sustained a semi-permanent state of physiological inflammation) they decided that pulling the plug was the acceptable and appropriate ‘out’. Fabulous, we’ve made suicide a socially acceptable way of avoiding dealing with the choices we made in life.
Instead of instilling into future generations, into our children and grandchildren that how life is lived is critical to living a long and healthy life, we’ve decided that modeling for future generations that when life gets hard don’t face up to your mistakes, quit! And so quitting is now easier than ever and to ensure that all the social stigma of suicide is eliminated we’ve rebranded suicide as “medically assisted dying” and legalized it! The ramifications… I don’t think we’ve considered any let alone considered the long term fall out from offering an easy out. We have started by encouraging the elderly with a terminal disease to end it early, so whose next? Will we encourage children to call it quits, or what about parents who want to call it quits on a child who has a terminal disease, or what about a disease which is not terminal, just makes life and living inconvenient, hard, challenging? Isn’t life itself terminal? We all die eventually… so where do you draw the line between terminal and terminal? There isn’t… so effectively we have legalized not just suicide, but killing. Think about it. Its a slippery slope that society has already started to skid down.
For others the awakening from a lifetime of living ramped comes with substantial sickness, but sickness they recover from. In these instances, the sheer fact of the sickness incapacitating them for weeks if not months facilitates the crossing of chasms. In some cases, these individuals can cross from ramped to threatened, from threatened to worried, and even further to apathy and boredom as their sickness removes them entirely from any daily interaction with their former life. Having to quit work due to hospitalization, or repeated treatment such as chemo or radiation therapy, or other surgical procedures requiring significant recovery time allows the individual to un-ramp over time. When you lose function of body parts, over bodily functions, when you lose a limb, or when your entire physical nature is changed due to illness all of a sudden… keeping up with keeping up falls far down the priority list and is replaced with sensible priorities such as health, wellness, gratefulness for seeing the sunrise yet another day. In these cases, the awakening can offer the individual a new start on life; free of all their former habits and patterns allows the individual to evaluate how they have lived to date, and offers them the option to live differently.
So how do we get into this mess to start? Instead of facing our fears, we decide that avoiding them is the solution. Instead of engaging life, we think that there is the option of escaping from reality – by pursuing power, popularity, profit – and to achieve these outcomes we start on a path of:
HiiL = Hi Intensity Interval Living
Isn’t that how most are living? Speeding to/from work, speeding to drive kids or pick up the kids from here, take’em there, speeding to get home and make dinner, or speeding to pick up drycleaning plus a few items at the store, then drop in on a friend, on family, catch up on emails, the project you are managing, and don’t forget in the midst of all of it… with life obviously insufficiently intense you decided to both renovate the basement and all the bathrooms in the house and you signed up for a spring marathon despite the fact that the last time you ran was so long ago that it has fallen out of both your short term and long term memory. Speeding speeding speeding… through life hoping that we can get away with it… another day, another week, but how long can it last? Forever… we know that that’s not possible; no one can escape judgement day: the day when all your decisions, all your choices that you have tried to run away from, tried to escape by going faster and faster, harder and harder in life catch up and challenge you to come up with the cost of all the consequences you hoped you would never ever have to deal with. Suicide? That’s the solution. Good luck with explaining that decision when you face your Maker, not sure how merciful He will be when all you have to show for yourself is a life you failed to live, and then when the cheque came you decided to call it quits and make a run for it.
There is a better way to move from being externally to internally motivated: instead of waiting for a dire diagnosis, or waiting for a life and lifestyle altering disease to force you into an awakening, you can be proactive, you can decide using your free will to change course. You don’t have to have life hit you square in the head and point a gun to your head threatening you with death. The alternative is to slow down, better yet, the alternative is to stop and lift up your head from a pattern of Hi Intensity Interval Living.
But there is a catch…
The moment you stop, you will feel threatened by ‘how will I catch back up’, you will become worried, anxious, even intimidated by everyone else who you will believe are ‘all getting ahead’ because of your decision to simply slow down, perhaps even stop for a moment. To move to not caring what others are doing, to become apathetic to whats going on online, in your social media circles or social communities…
Each of these crossings from one zone to the next will be a chasm, the question is… will you like Indiana Jones be able to take the leap of faith and believe that there is a better way to living, a better existence available, an existence which is not motivated constantly by the threat of whether or not you are keeping up with anyone other than what you are supposed to be doing in life, with your life?