3 bleak ideas that lead to life

January 10, 2018
3 bleak ideas that lead to life. Steve Davis muses about our mortality.

I have been mulling over 3 bleak ideas that lead to life for me, and I have decided to capture them in words to help me digest them further.

If you find them helpful, that is a superb bonus to me.

The 3 bleak ideas are these:

  • We take more care nurturing something when we know it is going to run out
  • It’s easy to forget that we “run out” and this simple, maths equation helps keep that insight top of mind
  • We live immersed in noise and not always noise you can hear

3 bleak ideas that lead to life: We nurture things better when they are running out

Have you ever noticed that when you drive about town or on holiday with a fairly full tank of petrol OR in an area with lots of petrol stations, how you don’t think twice about acceleration or using the air conditioner, etc?

However, when you are in a regional area on a Sunday and your fuel gauge is showing empty and the petrol stations in each little town are closed, suddenly, you ache over every press on the accelerator, every rise and fall in the road, and you probably cut the air conditioner and anything else “unnecessary” to conserve fuel.

In a similar vein, when the electricity goes out, water is turned off, or some other enforced deprivation is taking place, I’ve noticed how I THINK much more before opening the fridge door, taking another sip of water, or turning on a smartphone or computer.

I don’t know what it is like in your head but in mind, if there is no screaming sense of shortage, I just use whatever I need to without being mindful of how finite the resource is.

Imagine pretending that this grocery shopping trip was your last one for a fortnight (but only after you’ve returned home). Would knowing that BEFORE you went shopping have changed your habits in ways other than buying more volume? Would you have changed your shopping list?

To me, there is something in this mindset that has potential to help us be more mindful of our consumption of resources, and to cherish what we are consuming at a deeper level.

This reminds me of a conversation with Adelaide psychologist, Alexandra Frost, in episode 116 of The Adelaide Show Podcast, in which she drew my attention to the way I “mindfully” enjoy my wine.

3 bleak ideas that lead to life: We all run out eventually

I stumbled across the free, first chapter of Matthew Michalewicz’s book, Life In Half A Second, a few days ago and there is one idea that that is already leading to life for me.

In the chapter, The Countdown, Matthew sets a simple mathematical challenge.

Given the average age for Australians is around 80, you can estimate how many days you have left on this planet by doing the following sum:

80 – (your current age in whole years) * 365

It is a simple formula.

I have achieved my own countdown using a timer that you can see on the home page of this website.

What’s the point of this?

Well, as Matthew rightfully points out:

It’s the tragedy of all tragedies – it makes Shakespearean blank verse seem comic by comparison. Our lives are so cluttered doing what we “have to” that there’s no room for what we “want to,” even though we only  have half a second to do it. Perhaps that’s why there’s so much unhappiness in the world!

For Matthew, the “half a second” equates to how long our lives would be if the four and a half billion years of this planet were condensed to one year, and his problem is so few of us live with the fully aware knowledge that life really is short.

For me, watching that clock tick down from its 10,000+ days, pulls things into focus.

Interestingly, Max Martin from iNform Health and Fitness, in episode 177 of The Adelaide Show Podcast, did make a strong case that the less we move, the faster our decline will be physically.

This means that as we count those remaining days, we not only need to be mindful of planning important and interesting tasks now, but ensure we apportion enough from each of our days to make sure we can live life to the full for as many of them as possible.

What does this countdown make you consider anew?

3 bleak ideas that lead to life: Can you hear the noise about you?

The final item arises from a gradual irritation I’ve been experience as I sit back and reflect upon my daily action in this society.

The habitual engagement with social media channels (some for the podcast venture but more often for personal motivations), the tidbits of annoyingly tempting news bites about stories and themes that are mostly inconsequential, and the complete immersion in the output from some sectors of my beloved marketing realm resulting in stupid banner “noise” shouting “get it before it pops”.

In search of silence, I spent a week in Arkaroola in 2017, and since then, I have striven to create oases of silence in my days and my weeks, even though it gets harder the more I get drawn in by the quicksand of forged, digital habits.

And, so here we are.

Part awareness, part irritation, and part enforced sobriety.

These ideas all relate to a great reminder that we are mortal and we scuttle across this planet for a fleeting moment.

Within that, we can experience great moments of depth and passion, but we can also waste huge tracts of precious time basically spinning the wheel rather than seeking some sort of traction.

All the while, noisemakers are getting better at shrieking more directly to us, while we add to the noise with our own, curated program of pictures and comments and arguments.

I am trying to “get it”, through these 3 bleak ideas that lead to life (or at least promise to).

I just hope I do get it “before it pops” – either me or the world or our society.

Writing this has been helpful to me and will make my 10380th last day on this planet even more worthwhile if it can be helpful to you, too.