A life wherein we can survive for the first 25 years of our lives off of our parents, work a cushy job for thirty five years, and finally retire in comfort for several decades. A life in which working part time is not only possible, but oftentimes encouraged. A life that normally consists of eating copious amounts of foods simply because they taste good, and exercise consists of walking from the parking lot to the office. A life of ease.
Some view this as a beautiful thing. It is possible to live in relative comfort now instead of having to strive for every penny earned and every bite of food eaten. Being a touch (or even a lot) overweight is no problem. Living off of welfare is a normal thing to do at some point in life. Buying a luxury massage chair on a credit card is the smart thing to do to help sooth your stressful lifestyle. Using recreational drugs or unnecessary prescriptions is the quick fix your health needs after you down that hunk of chemicals that somehow passes as food from McDonald’s.
For years our society has continually pushed towards making everything as easy as possible on us. Children used to walk to school. Now their parents drive them in a luxury sedan or a gas hogging SUV. Instead of playing sports in the fields, they play games on a TV screen. Instead of making their own toys out of scrap pieces of wood with their fathers, they are delivered shiny new plastic objects on a regular basis thanks to the miracle of online shopping.
And once adulthood is reached, tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt is accumulated, along with overly fancy cars and custom beer glasses. A bit of girth gets added to the stomach and arms become floppy. Work is a tedious chore that needs to be minimized as much as possible until retirement finally comes around. Destressing with a few beers every night is the norm. And when times get tough and the cushy corporate job disappears, why not live as long as possible off of unemployment payments from the government?
The idea of working towards great goals is nothing more than a bunch of lies spouted by motivational speakers. Hard work must be avoided at all costs, and a goal of starting a business or getting out of debt or getting a second degree or losing 30 pounds sound much too difficult.
That is one way to live. Thankfully, there is an alternative.
The Strenuous Life
In 1899, Theodore Roosevelt gave one of the most profound speeches in American history. It may not have had the cultural impact of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” or MLK’s “I Have a Dream”, but it did call upon the individual in a way that has rarely been done. It called on each one of us to live not a life of ease, but one of continuous struggle. Here is one its most famous passages.
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
Even in today’s world of continuing ease, there are things that are hard to get.
It is impossible to build a great body without a consistent workout program and forcing yourself to avoid the many dietary disasters companies attempt to shove down your throat.
It is impossible to live a debt free life without being willing to sacrifice the many creature comforts available at the click of a mouse or drive down the interstate.
It is impossible to build a legacy without working so hard and so passionately at something that people literally want your work to stay alive after you’ve passed just to see its beauty again.
There are those of us who avoid the easy life, instead choosing to live a life of continual struggle. Not struggling for the sake of it, but in order to earn something greater. Something worth more than temporary comfort. A life of meaning.
There are many people who debate “the meaning of life”. But let’s face facts. Life doesn’t have inherent meaning. Unless you give it meaning, it is nothing but the passing of time. Unless you are willing to do what is necessary to live a life of meaning, your days will be wasted in a sea of Call of Duty and Miley Cyrus twerking videos.
Do you have what it takes to live a life that means something more than just a passing of time and involves more than eating Cheetos?
By it’s very definition, this is not easy. And that is the point. There would be no reason to live a life of meaning if it was easy to have. The struggle and the meaning go hand in hand, one cannot exist without the other. Unless you are willing to step into the arena, this life of meaning will never be yours.
This blog is not going to give you “productivity hacks”. It won’t show you how to workout less and still be in okay shape.
What it is going to do is document my many thoughts as I struggle to accomplish as much in this life as I possibly can. Some would say I haven’t done a whole lot yet. But seeing as I’m only 19, I think I’m well on my way. I hope you’ll join me in this epic quest. This path to greatness. I may not get there. You may not either. But I for one would rather die trying than let time merely pass me by. Welcome aboard.