vitamin D - danger and death
A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week. George Patton
in the primal world, danger and death are a constant threat. this is well known and the reason why we’ve been enamoured by the idea of civilisation with its promise to deliver us from danger. technology now lures us deeper into delusion with the promise of eradicating even death.
feature, not bug
but what if danger and death were designed to make us relish and enjoy life to the hilt? then by attempting to rid ourselves of them, we’re actually ridding ourselves of the richness of life.
think about all the times you’ve felt absolutely alive, animated and excited beyond belief. on a slide, under a waterfall, diving into chilly waters, riding a roller coaster. our greatest experiences in civilisation are on the fringes or edges of it. imagine life beyond the boundaries we’ve drawn ourselves into.
urgency = agency
agency is scarce. from the time were born to the time we die we rarely, if ever exercise agency. until our teens, parents dictate all aspects of our life. peers follow suit through the teenage years without making it obvious. as adults, bosses and spouses take the mantle and influence our actions; covertly or overtly. our children then become the compass for life’s actions as we’re now liable for them.
it’s often only when confronted by a sense of urgency that we make decisions less influenced by others and more influenced by ourselves. of course that may just be internal biases, past conditioning and emotional outbursts at play. yet it’s probably the most agency you’ve shown in a long time.
if you’re a contemplative individual who has premeditated responses to extreme danger and imminent death, you are closer to discovering and exercising agency apart from both internal and external influences.
imagination and execution
using these two, we can play to find ways to dance with danger and death, in a way that offers comfort and creativity instead of fear and insecurity.
l can’t concentrate on golf or bowling. Those bowling pins aren’t going to hurt me. I can concentrate in the ring because someone is trying to kill me. - Carmen Basilo
games have always relied on the primal need to survive as the motivation to push one towards victory. today we’ve replaced the primal rewards of survival and procreation with money and fame. yet intrinsic motivation will always be fear or desire based and that can be transformed through play into fun.
Difficulty is what wakes up the genius. - Nassim Taleb
the starting line
while deadlines scare and stress, they also instigate action from a state of inertia. however we can’t stay in first gear forever and need to constantly keep shifting gears as per the situation.
the gunshot fired to kickstart a race is symbolic of the danger that gets us going. but it’s more of a desire to be the fastest and get the gold that drives Usain Bolt to the finish line and fear of being shot in the arse. but how much faster do you think he would run if that were really the case? almost every adult has experienced that spurt of energy when the danger of missing deadlines and facing consequences looms on the horizon.
addiction to action
some of us maybe scared to use danger as a tool to initiate action but some others depend on it every single time. are you addicted to that rush of Nitrous oxide (N₂O) to get you across the finish line? in the wild, animals face the possibility of entering the fight or flight mode at any instant but are rarely in the state of being. and even then it’s not on a regular basis or for long durations at a time.
contrast that with the modern jungle aka the workspace where stressors and dangers abound all the time. it is no wonder that performance anxiety and burnouts are expected of individuals today. what is the ratio of relaxation to excitation in your everyday life?
good, bad and ugly
while i’m all for the sense of urgency that danger and death bring to our lives, it’s is unsustainable if more than 2% of the time. let’s call that ugly energy. that extreme state of urgency, emergency and stress that your engine can bear and even relish without getting destroyed in the process. this is that ‘pedal to the metal’ and ‘balls to the wall’ kinda energy that every individual experiences whether predators or prey in life’s journey to survive and thrive.
the aftermath of that hyper rush of energy can be managed at approximately 18% of the time where you use that initial momentum to your advantage while still adding to it with gusto and aggression towards your goal. this state of being still has you breathless but you’re not pumping at maximum. still hovering around the red line though 😅 let’s call this bad energy (not a negative connotation).
the remainder 80% of the time, we just coast in overdrive, taking in the sights, smelling the roses and singing songs together along the highway of life. this is good energy. again this doesn’t mean that this is positive and other energies are negative. it just means that this is effortless energy. that cool and light and easy vibe that feels so right.
so what energy do you play with in the professional and personal playgrounds of life?