Why is it that as we age we are less likely to try new things?
There seems to be an actual turning point to which our risk tolerance, spontaneity and ability to break existing habits begins to decline.
And maybe I ought to reframe my first question because I don’t truly believe it’s an “age-thing”.
Maybe our lock-step is simply the preservation of our own comfort…
Maybe we’ve adopted the popular delusion that discomfort equals unbearable pain…
Perhaps we slipped and fell so drastically in our younger years that we have now locked ourselves on the path of “safety” and swallowed the keys.
Maybe… just maybe… we’ve accumulated such status, wealth and security that now we live with the ultimate fear of losing it…
I once heard someone make a case for the life of a captive lion…
Statistically speaking, lions in captivity live nearly twice as long as their wild counterparts.
By our cultural standards, the lion in captivity is much wealthier – he has a full-time staff that cleans his house, his meals are prepared for him, he receives comprehensive medical insurance, he undergoes routine check ups, he is gawked at, he is seemingly untouchable, and he’s basically tenured at his job.
On the other hand, the lion in the Savannah lives a bare-existence. There’s no arguing that he lacks the ease of day-to-day life in comparison to the one in captivity.
But I ask you this… if you were the lion living in the Savannah would you be willing to trade places?
Trade your freedom for a cage?
Dilute your instincts for a treat?
Skip over your scars to be more seen by others?
The immediate answer is NO WAY!
The one that pulls on your heartstrings is the thought of an animal with so much power and prowess sitting in a pen while their entire spirit atrophies… Not to mention that for every minute that they’re in there, they’re getting further and further away from their nature, and they’re becoming less and less equipped for a life with any variability.
Now I want you to pause.
…are you seeing any parallel?
…is this sounding awfully familiar?
From my own perspective, I think we’ve largely begun laying the bricks for our own captivity.
We’ve taken a step back from trying anything outside our pen because we’ve started to associate trial MOSTLY WITH ERROR.
In the words of a very great teacher:
Trial and error is an efficient method of finding progress – so long as the errors are recorded and not repeated.
With each new experiment, we eliminate a possibility (the error) and increase the probability that the next experiment will lead to trial AND SUCCESS.
Life is a marathon of trial and error.
Unfortunately, the trials are typically in their highest volume early in life, when the errors we know about are at their smallest.
As we age, even though the probability of success increases, the frequency of trials decreases, leading to an unfortunate zero-sum game.J. Martin
I believe the zero-sum game is captivity.
And captivity is BY CHOICE.
Each person has their own life path and I can only speak from the dissection of my own, but I can tell you this – the times that I have been MOST comfortable have been the times with the least amount of growth.
The times where I have swung big, come up short, started over, and put in the UNCOMFORTABLE WORK to chip through every thought, belief and habit that I have in order to get clear about where I’m going, have been the times of greatest reward!
I have no qualms with choosing to retire the days of reckless abandonment, but let it be known that the era of creativity, transformation and WILD SUCCESS is very much alive.
If it’s been a while since you’ve gone for a run – get outside and go for a walk before that walk becomes something aspirational.
If you’re lacking the stamina to play with your kids – start training before they no longer want to play with you.
If you’ve been riding the easy train – choose to do something hard before something hard truly knocks you off your tracks.
Risk the momentary discomfort.
Refuse to let your mind, your body, or your spirit atrophy in your own captivity.
Time is the ONLY thing that can’t be renewed.
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