Thursday, October 3, 2013

Life as a Daring Adventure


The humanist Helen Keller was blind from a childhood illness at 18 months of age, was heroically nurtured out of her introverted prison and became an inspiration to the world in the early 20th century. Even with this terrible start to life, she felt that "life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing." What an adventure it must have been for her to be raised as an animal and have someone in her life not accept this for her and encourage her to take on this challenge called life to live it to the fullest! (See the movie "The Miracle Worker").

For myself, I NEED a challenge. Though I have never had a challenge even close to Ms. Keller's, there have been many life challenges for me, both wanted and unwanted. Going into medicine was a challenge for me as it was a total career change for me after a undergrad study of Politics/Pre-Law. There were also about 3% males in nursing in the 80's and HIV/AIDS was a new and frightening disease when I confronted it in the ICU's of the SF Bay Area. With the help of friends and colleagues I worked through these challenges one by one. Nursing HAS been a daring adventure in so many ways!

People have different concepts of what an adventure is. Some adventurous thrill seekers need skydiving or scuba diving where for others, a vacation out of state is enough of a thrill/challenge. I think that life's daring adventure MUST have a regular chance for us to challenge ourselves to grow mentally, physically and spiritually. As Bob Dylan so famously sang: "He not busy being born is busy dying." Surely we are all on our way to life's FINAL adventure and if we don't take this life as an exciting, challenging experience then we aren't really living fully. I think this is the essence of what Helen Keller tried to pass along from her experience. 

So quality of life is in putting ourselves into situations where we can squeeze life's zest out of what we treasure most!! Take the time to look around you and think about what inspires you and challenges you to lead an extra-ordinary life. Work hard to include these things in your life. For me, I was driven to travel, to volunteer(at home and abroad), and to have a career that inspired me (ICU and ER medicine).  I encourage you to define your Daring Adventure as soon as possible and write it out and share it with loved ones and post it where you can see it daily. Get friends and family together to discuss the topic and help each other to define what a life well lived is. Your life and sanity may well depend on it!

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