Thrivable Living: Edge-Riding

How do you lead a thrivable life? Let’s begin by looking at edge-riding.

One of my colleagues asked me once, why do you insist on riding the edge? To be honest, I think there are lots of ways I am not pushing the edge. And some ways that what I do might be pushing some cultural edge, but it isn’t an edge for me. For example, the father of my kids has them the majority of the time. We have been doing it this way for five years (and three of those years we have been separated.) Our kids don’t seem to think this is strange. It is how we are. I don’t wake up in the morning debating about it. It is what it is, and for the most part seems to work for us. Creating, on the other hand, feels like edge-riding to me.

Wisdom from the darkness
I do sense that there is something about living a thrivable life that has to do with riding the edge. When I talk with people who have faced their own death – whether through an accident that they have willed themselves to come back from or the threat of cancer, the death of a loved one near to them, or just a serious wake up call, I hear a craving for the edge. Sometimes it grows slowly, and often times it comes in the blink of an eye. This life is short and precious. As Mary Oliver’s poem goes, “What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life?” Well, I am not going to spend it sitting down and passively letting the world go by me. And when I talk with people who have suffered tremendous loss – of wealth or love, passion project or dream, I hear there too a certain resilience that allows for riding the edge. An “I know how dark the darkness is, and I learned to survive that, and I can survive what comes next” attitude emerges in the ones I admire. Whether having faced death or failure, questions emerge that can bring one to strive for edge-riding:

What is the worst that can happen? Can I survive that?
If I don’t do anything or don’t choose this course, will I regret it later? In 5 years? 20?
Can I look in the mirror with integrity and love myself?

But what will my friends think of me?

Most of us ask this question when we ponder something on our edge. We look to them to externalize our sense of ourselves and the norms of our tribes. However, the answer does not rest with them, it rests in our own hearts. You are the only person you have to live with for the rest of your life. The only one. Not your significant other(s), not your family, not your work circle or faith circle. You. When you are 80, and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of your family play at your feet, will you look in the mirror and say, “I lived a thrivable life – living in dynamic balance with myself and the world around me?” No one else is having to look in that mirror with you.

If you can’t look into the mirror today and love yourself, then you won’t likely be able to do it when you are 80 unless something changes. You are the only one responsible for that change. That is the integrity test – looking in the mirror and knowing that you have integrity – with your nature, your dreams, and your inner most self. Being able to do that, well, I think it is worth riding the edge for. If you really want to honor your nature…really want to achieve your dreams…really want to connect to your innermost self, then find your edges and ride a few until you evolve in the person that feels a glorious tingle when you look in the mirror and discover – “cool, I actually admire the person facing me.”

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