Seizing the day: a source of exclusion

Thrill seeking climb up Everest or a day in being productive, how do you prefer to go about ‘siezing the day’?

Thrill seeking climb up Everest or a day in being productive, how do you prefer to go about ‘seizing the day’?

JIM WHITTAKER, the first American to climb Mount Everest, once said: “If you’re not living on the edge, then you’re taking too much space.” Now, I do think there is some magic behind the mix of adrenaline and euphoria whenever you’re doing something dangerous and exhilarating, living in the now and paying no mind to the consequences.

But what people sometimes fail to realise is that there are other ways to make the most of your day, whether it be indulging in a hobby and hanging out with friends to feeling the need to be productive every second of the day. What do these lifestyles have in common with its wild, adrenaline-pumping cousin? They all make those involved happy, or at least provide relief: the adrenaline makes you euphoric, the comfort makes you relaxed, and the work makes you satisfied. All are pleasant emotions, so why can’t they just get along?

Personally, I think it boils down to a mixture of personal preference and misunderstanding. Of course, there will be people who find the time to be productive, relaxed and still have the time to find new things and experience them. But such people are rarely found living in a way that is idealised at best, only achievable with utter mastery over time management as well as the money to afford the inevitable costs of all these new and wild experiences.

Unfortunately, people tend to stigmatise those who don’t conform to their own way of seizing the day. Alcohol is a prime example – if you don’t drink, sometimes you’ll be given all sorts of petty labels I’m not going to be bothered wasting words for. This peer pressure makes me think that people might be insecure about the way they live, and need validation by having those around them copy them, so that the consequences won’t be theirs alone. This isn’t just for alcohol, though – perhaps for a whole multitude of lifestyle choices that I’ll leave you to think about.

Another dilemma is that if you continuously try experiencing new things, it becomes harder to stick with the hobbies you already have and commit to both the familiar and the novel. I had this exact problems with two societies that both ran on the exact same time on Tuesday evenings: I could have attempted to go to both and probably gained more life skills as a result, but I knew that if I went my skills at both would be mediocre, whereas if I chose one I would have a better chance at taking it to a professional level and go around the UK with the friends that would’ve been acquaintances if I hadn’t visited so often.

With effort and discipline, you may be in a position where you can maintain multiple ways of life simultaneously. But even then; after university, circumstances are going to be very different. You’ll have a lot of spare time on your hands, and nowhere near as many new and liberating opportunities in comparison to your life as a student. Yes, you can travel, but travelling costs money – money which you need to steadily earn while maintaining a reasonable standard of living. This is where we return to the original quote, which infers that an all-or-nothing lifestyle is better than simply existing in your own comfort zone. To an extent, the quote makes sense, as greater effort will eventually equate to greater reward. However, the quote implies that any other lifestyle is a waste of time, which is an example of ignorance if no other – who is he to dismiss a way of life just because he indulges in its direct opposite? If you enjoyed last week’s film marathon then, to me, you’re making the most of your day. To quote John Lennon: “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”

New insights and experiences are important, but you don’t have to live on the edge to reach them. That new volunteer job or yoga class won’t put you in mortal peril like the economical, physical and psychological risks associated with living on the edge. But it will still provide you with new skills that will help you in the world. If you like pushing yourself to the limit and experiencing new adventures then, by all means, continue enjoying yourself, go crazy. But don’t look down on everyone else just because they don’t share the same outlook as you.  Everyone perceives and lives everyday life in their unique and wonderful way and, in the few decades of conscience we’re all given, as long as we don’t harm anyone we should be allowed to live in any way we wish.