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Living Life in the Red

For those that remember the cold war era, this post has nothing to do with communism. At least not intentionally! Nor is it about reliance upon credit and living in debt. No, this article is about the difference between getting by and living life without regrets.

Talk about a bold statement! I used to get by. I had fun and enjoyed my life but I wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything with it. There was no improvement or change, just the same old stuff one day to the next. Things were ‘good enough’. I just didn’t know anything else because I’d never had the notion that I could try. Instead for people that were successful i considered them lucky or flawed in some way that would come back to bite them in the ass. The best word to describe me: bitter. Okay, another word: pessimistic.

This isn’t about me though. I just wanted to throw out some self-observations in hopes that maybe somebody reading this can identify with that attitude or mindset. No, this latest inspiration for an article came while having a twitter discussion with a couple of people (@kreelanwarrior and @tjameswriter) that involved me picking up heavy things. Regular readers of my blog know I’m addicted to weightlifting – power lifting in particular. I’ve had my share of injuries from back strains to tearing my pec free of my left arm and needing surgery to reattach it. Yeah, you can grimace, it wasn’t pretty. It is a fun story to tell, but I’ve told it in another blog post already I think.

So how does power lifting equate to living life in the red? Well, think of a tachometer on a vehicle – you know, the guage that tells you how fast your engine in spinning. It’s got numbers and colors on it, and red generally means you need to shift up or you’re going to blow your engine. Well, life has one of those too. You can keep your life tachometer in the lower ranges where you never challenge yourself. You’ll live a safe life without any great successes, but also hopefully without any catastrophic failures.



What fun is that? Maybe that’s fine for the majority of the population, but for some of us it just doesn’t work like that. We’re greedy, we want more out of life. That’s where living life in the red comes in. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you’ve found that line in the sand that shouldn’t be crossed. Then again, if you don’t cross it, do you really know where it is? Every toddler knows where their line is – they attempt to cross it constantly with their parents (trust me, I’ve got a toddler!). But as adults we’ve been beaten down time and again for pushing the envelope so we start to not try anymore.

Risk is scary. Failure is paralyzing. Losing is a painful pill to swallow. There are many reasons why we shouldn’t try, and some of them are legitimate (injury, emotional upset, or worse), but sometimes the risk is worth the reward. I tore my left pectoral muscle so badly I’ll probably never be able to lift again what I once did. I even notice problems in day to day activities and movements. If my pecs are contracted (flexed) the left side looks drawn up and funny compared to the right side. I’d risk it again though…succeeding is worth it. I still do try lifting maximally and I hope to one day get to where I once was. I lift in a safer and more controlled environment, but I still live in the red both under the iron and in other areas of my life. I’ve accomplished a lot more than I ever expected to because of that and I’m not any more entitled to success than anyone else is. I’ve got a long ways to go too, but life and personal achievement have something in common – you have the most memories along the way rather than at the end.

Besides, what good are goals if you’re too afraid of failure to try and reach them?



  1. August 26, 2011 at 07:52

    It’s amazing how fearless we are as kids and how afraid we are of so much as adults.

    Really, most adults are simply afraid of the dark.

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