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#37 Live Dangerously

Hello Fellow Philosophers!

I have been thinking a lot lately on why I am afraid to embrace vulnerability, to even welcome it as a useful tool for change and growth. And yet, all too often, I find myself trying to stabilize my life as if I have some sort of control over what happens to me. But this “control” is an illusion.

We don’t even know what will happen in a day. In fact, it can be an interesting experiment to take a minute of two in the morning and imagine how you think the day will go. For example, I did this one morning years ago. The first part of my day was pretty accurate. I went to school and taught my classes.

As I was leaving school, I noticed I had a flat tire. While I was at my mechanic’s shop, I received a message from a friend that he had two free Rolling Stones tickets if I wanted them. So, we went to see the Rolling Stones that night. Later, I remembered how I imagined my day would go and saw how wrong I was. This happens all of the time, actually, if we learn to pay attention to how little we actually know.

Sometimes I feel as if I am being lived rather than being in charge of my own life. For example, I think about picking up some ice cream before I go home. However, I am also trying to lose weight and don’t want all of those calories. So, part of me says “live for the day.” Another part of me says “I don’t want to have a heart attack.”

As a result, I sometimes remember to watch “it” make a decision. With curiosity, I say let’s see what it will do. Without much consciousness I find that I either pull over and buy the ice cream or I pass the turn off and find myself home, having completely forgot about the ice cream. The big philosophical question is to ask oneself, who is this “it” that decides so much of my life for me?

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that we should “live dangerously.” What does that mean? I don’t take this too literally. And while I don’t know exactly what he meant, I do think it means to live with radical openness and not say no to life and what it brings me. Is it just blind chance that is driving my life? Or is this “It” the unknown deeper self that I rarely remember making the choices?

To live dangerously can mean simply living outside of the box. It may very well be the means to living “an examined life.” It is “dangerous” in that I don’t know what will happen on any given day. I might even die today! To embrace my unknowing is one way to live dangerously. To be open and willing to learn — that to me is the essence of living dangerously.

To Danger Then!


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