Life Experiences Are Critically Important

I’m still not fully recovered from the spider bite (+ unfortunate chain of events) that happened about 4 months ago. Having health problems for longer than a few days is typically an anomaly and suddenly I’m wondering if I’ll ever regain my former pristine health (doc appointment tomorrow should shed some light).

Health has always been important to me and I’ve always thought of myself as the healthiest person I know. But now when I look out at fellow humans, I think, “I bet they don’t have these issues…they don’t realize how lucky they are. I never did.”

My perspective of health has shifted so dramatically in the past months that it has permanently changed the way I view sick people. Back then, they were irresponsible (some are, yes)…but now I’m just full of compassion. Now I understand.

It’s interesting having only one perspective – because it seems to me that my view of the world will only really change based on what I (and not others) experience. Though I don’t believe in “fate”…we do seem to be at the mercy of our own experiences. Bear with me when I say we have no choice but to see the world in the way that we’ve seen it.

Considering other perspectives is healthy and can be done, but there is a large gap between understanding it and “getting it.”

Understanding Vs. “Getting It

For example, Steve Jobs and Apple. Analysts and consumers understood what it was that made Apple successful – but only Steve Jobs and company “got it.” Otherwise, competitors would have raced in and stole market share (and oh how they have tried!). But their shallow attempts to copy Apple’s formula was missing the core ingredient (“Appleness”). When we read Jobs’ biography and hear about his eccentric ways, we may understand it…but only he and perhaps a select few people close to him really “got him.”

Experience then, has tremendous value. (I suppose this is why employers value it above all else my degree has been nearly useless, but I’m not bitter or anything :-D). I don’t know about you, but for me…this changes the way I look at everyone else. To expect others to even be able to have the same views and feelings you do about the world is to suggest that they have experienced all that you have!

This immediately enlightens me to the value of traveling (already a passion of mine).

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

~ Mark Twain

This quote is in my top three favorites. It masterfully illuminates what I’m just now realizing – there is no replacement for experience. We simply can’t be well-rounded individuals without experience in the things that create that.

  • The warmth and protective care of a parent
  • The selflessness that one learns by raising a child
  • The solemn, harsh reality of war
  • The pain and organic tragedy of losing a friend
  • The challenge in all life phases (emotional, physical, spiritual) that poor health and chronic illness bring
  • The adrenaline rush and euphoria of winning the Super Bowl (or other sports accomplishment…individually or as a team)
  • The comfort and joy of having complete trust in another person
  • The depth of love of a long-married couple
  • The first time you experience culture shock
  • The pride in creating something
  • The emotional anguish of a broken heart
  • The horror of genocide and other heinous crimes
  • The wonder of childhood
  • The magic of memories
  • The annoyance of dealing with retail customers
  • The love of human compassion towards each other
  • The dream of getting paid to do what you love
  • The hopelessness of feeling alone and isolated
  • The hope of a new day and a fresh start
  • Being human
They all change us. They make us happy, bitter, nostalgic, homesick, cynical, open-minded, closed-minded, angry, scared, compassionate, and courageous. Together, they broaden our mind and temper our extremes (though individually some may drive us to extremes).

What Does This All Mean?

I suppose it is good and bad…or just the way life is. Our experiences add up to create our lives and they are what we truly know. It isn’t enough to know of. I know of scuba diving, but I don’t know it like someone who has done it.
So if you want to, go out (or stay in) and experience something new – skydiving, traveling, babysitting, creating something, etc. When you finish, find someone else who has done that and talk with them about it. I might (classic non-committal language of mine) start challenging myself (and you) to try new things, so beware.
As always, thanks for reading.

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