To live dangerously or not is not a choice you or I can always make. In a way, living dangerously is a given. You are already in danger! Because you are already living in the unknown. And anything you don’t know is risky, dangerous, or, let’s say, adventurous__if you want an euphemism that is. Those who fear danger, fear the unknown, dislike unpredictability, and so shy away from the adventure Life offers, don’t live. They simply exist. They are breathing, and so are biologically alive, but they are long dead.
A friend was chatting about adventure sports the the other day. He spoke about how white river rafting helps you overcome fear and face nature. He said that adventure fills you with joy and is the best way to learn to live in the moment. It got me thinking. Doesn’t Life sometimes thrust adventure on you? What do you do when suddenly your job gets taken away or your child is diagnosed with leukemia or you rupture a heart valve or an event, natural or man-made, changes the entire context of your Life irreversibly? The other indisputable truth is that Life is already playing with you. But you are not aware of it, because in the secure confines of your job, your monthly pay check, your Life, you think, is in your control. Whereas it really never is!
An interesting, nerve-wracking experience taught me this lesson. Some time ago, I was diagnosed with a particular health condition that my doctor felt required an urgent scan to investigate and to decide on taking next, corrective steps. If the scan were to confirm what he was suspecting, my doctor told me, I would need an immediate surgery. “It is a matter of Life and death. We need to take a decision in the next 30 minutes,”said the doctor. I was taken aback. But I quickly gathered myself and calmly explained to him that in my (financially) insolvent state I could not afford any of what he wanted me to do. I reported that my health insurance too had lapsed some years ago as I had not been able to pay the premium. I shrugged my shoulders and said “Life would take care of me”. It was my doctor’s turn to be taken aback. He did not argue. He politely asked me to sign an undertaking that I was leaving the hospital of my own accord__this indemnified him against any turn my Life would have likely taken. I signed the document without thinking too much. As I got up to leave, he asked me how I could be so calm in the face of such a situation. I replied: “Doctor, I don’t have a choice!” He suddenly asked me to wait and called up another clinic and arranged for the scan to be done immediately at a huge discount, which I believe, he got me on his personal reference. I thanked him and we rushed to the other clinic for the scan. As I lay on a table submitting myself to the radiologist and his team for the scan to be completed, these thoughts were uppermost on my mind:
- What if the doctor’s hunch was right and I indeed have the condition he suspects and I need a surgery?
- What if the surgery cannot be afforded by us and I die?
- What if I die and leave my wife and family in the lurch, in a messy financial state?
A wave of fear gripped me. I hadn’t been in this kind of a Life-and-death situation ever before. As the scan progressed though my fear evaporated in the face of my awareness. I realized that I had no choice. That I had to face whatever was going to happen to me and my family. Because a critical resource which could solve our problem, money, was simply not available to us presently. And I had no means to raise it. Nor did my wife. As this awareness replaced my fear, a beautiful feeling of peace and calm took over me. I discovered I was actually smiling when the radiologist remarked in surprise: “You look happy Sir! You seem to be enjoying your condition!” I replied, again, “Doctor, I don’t have a choice!”
The scan was soon completed. It revealed the presence of a different condition, not at all Life-threatening, to the one my doctor had suspected. I gathered from the radiologist, from my own doctor and from some elementary research I did on Google later, that both conditions had identical symptoms and only the scan I underwent could have ruled out one or the other. Phew! So, that was some adventure Life thrust on me, in addition to whatever I was already facing!!!
But that experience reinforced in me something I had learned from Osho, the Master: that in reality, we don’t have too much choice in Life. You always have to accept what comes your way! I have also learned that whether you seek adventure or adventure seeks you, either way, you can be guaranteed joy! The only difference is when you seek adventure, you naively imagine you are in control. And when adventure seeks you, when Life becomes unpredictable, you understand the truth better __ that this game was never being played by you, that you were never in control!
So, know that you and I are already living dangerously. Because whether you like it or not, Life is coming at you, to you, only the way it wants to. And because through living dangerously you will find joy!