All three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled as such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered in white on both sides, but the lead caravan carries an additional line of text:
Because survival is insufficient .
–Emily St. John Mandel/ Station Eleven
One of the things that makes online dating a bigger challenge than it needs to be is all of the people who are really into proving that they live every moment to the fullest. To the point where if I see the phrase “I live life to the fullest” in a profile, I am tempted to just move onto the next person without reading any further.
Because most of the time, it’s being used as a test. It’s being used as a way to exclude people. It’s being used to demonstrate superiority. It isn’t really about living at all, at least for a lot of people.
For one thing, it’s socially acceptable way for a person to say “no fatties” without being open about it. Know what? As far as I am concerned, it’s OK to have a sexual preference for a thin body type. Some people like a thin frame. Some prefer someone who is more ample. Be open about it. You don’t get to have it both ways, though. If you are, in fact, not attracted to people who are overweight, you don’t get credit for being being open minded if you’re putting it in terms of a fitness test. Don’t indicate that you are not fussy about thinness if, in fact, you are.
Many live life to the fullest proponents do not respect lifestyles that involve more brain than body activity. Only motion is the “correct” way to live life to the fullest. Sitting still activities, like reading, art, writing, or other creative or intellectual endeavors aren’t valid. So someone like me, who is very willing to try new things, would always be failing the test because at some point, I would want to sit in the sun and read instead of going on a 15 mile hike. I might turn down night skiing because I want to do some writing. Would they be as willing to spend a sunny day going for a poky walk in the park and then reading? No. It would be wasting the day. The really relevant part to me is that to them, THEIR way of spending the day is not wasting it. Only mine is.
Only moving activity counts as living life at all to some people. If someone who spent the weekend running an ultramarathon asks you what you did last weekend and you reply “I read 2 books, went for a couple of walks in the park, watched a TED talk about neural science and how easy it is to rewire your brain for either happiness or sadness, made a couple of hats, wrote a short story, did the usual errands/laundry/groceries/cleaning, had dinner with friends on Saturday and warped my loom so I can start a shawl, ” the one who ran 70 miles is going to probably going to respond with something like “a couple of walks? That’s all you did all weekend?” He won’t even hear the rest. It wasn’t active, so it isn’t interesting. Never mind that you were doing something relatively productive the entire time. More productive, probably, than running for a whole weekend. You put new information into your brain. You made things. You weren’t doing nothing–you were engaged in life just like they were. You weren’t watching TV all weekend, you were using your brain and your body and socializing with friends. You were creating something.
So why the attitude? When did doing some sort of physical activity during every moment of free time become a sign that you are living life better than others? What happened to balance?
Leonardo da Vinci spent most of his time creating art, researching wacky ideas for inventions, writing things down backwards in a notebook, and had a ton of pen pals. As far as I know, he didn’t go kayaking, mountain biking, snowboarding, or surfing even once. He never ran even a sprint triathlon or a half marathon. Slacker.
What a wasted life. He would never be able to get a date on OKCupid!
Side note and acknowledgement: not all of the live life to the fullest types are annoying douche canoes. Many of them are very nice, and like to drink a lot of beer when they come down from the mountain. Many of them are just full of crazy manic energy that only motion satisfies. This is not about those people. This is about the ones who use the mountains they’re hiking and skiing on as places from which to look down on the mere mortals at home.