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Old 03-15-2011, 12:28 PM   #1
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Life: Quantity or Quality

I just read this, had to repost in light of some of our recent topics.**This was on a blog that I read.

Your intriguing posts about the conundrum of leap-year birthdates, and your follow-up about tiredness, motivated me to question why we even bother to measure life in years.
* * What matters in life, quantity or quality? For that matter, when do we actually die? Is it when we quit breathing, or when we become afraid to do things we really want to do?
* * This is not an updated take on some Twilight Zone episode or the "die young, stay pretty" slogan that folks my age grew up with. Nor is it a call to mass suicide at age 50, 60, or 70. But what is the obsession about thinking of people as living "long and happy" lives versus being "cheated" out of life by an early death? Look objectively at people who live long compared to those who die younger. Some who die young do have very untimely misfortune, but you often find that the people who lived to be older got there not by living great lives but by playing it safe and hardly ever living at all-much as many executives move up the ladder by excelling at office politics rather than contributing innovative ideas.

In recent years two acquaintances of mine died while still in their 40s.
* * One climbed all the major peaks of the world, wrote books and was featured in books, helped film movies, had a beautiful wife and two wonderful children. He died buried beneath a freak avalanche in a place where avalanches hardly ever occurred. If he had run left he would have survived, as did his climbing partner. But he ran right.
* * The other acquaintance was, frankly, a slob. He wouldn't control his eating or drinking. He over compensated with arrogance and bravado, and most of us did our best to avoid him. He died because his heart just couldn't take the load. He couldn't run at all.
* * At both funeral services the same basic things were said. What a shame it was for lives to be cut so short, what a shame for them not to have the years to reach their full potential. Yadda, yadda. You know the drill.
* * So are we supposed to believe that since both lives ended in basically the same number of years they are somehow similar in value? If the slob had taken enough medication to survive until 80, would he be perceived as having lived twice the life as our mountain climber friend? Really?
* * If any of us could live to 150 it is doubtful we could build a life that would come close to the one constructed by the climber. And many of us lived more by age 20 than the slob did by age 40.
* * If our climber friend had given up doing expeditions such as the one that killed him, yes, he might still be alive. Or would he? He might be eating, drinking, and breathing, but would the person spending time with his wife and children really be him, or would he be as much of a stranger to himself and his family and friends as the stepfather who now fills his void?
* * It is similar with tiredness. Morris, you are of what we shall politely call advancing years. You have had some injuries, you work, you keep up with your blog-how could you not be tired? But what of the 20, 30, and 40somethings who sit at a desk all day then tailgate manically on I-40 as they rush home to plop down in a recliner in front of a TV with a bag of chips? They're tired too. But from what? Your clock will wind down someday, but is their clock really still ticking even now?
* * Again, do years even matter in life?

I started thinking seriously about all this last year when I hit the "double nickel" and my friends-and my two decades younger wife-began encouraging me to start shopping for a recliner and a good cable package. This was a strange concept on two fronts. I never sit down unless I'm in a car. I never replaced the TV one of my burly rescue cats smashed fatally face down as it launched from atop a BBC broadcast to the top of a nearby wardrobe.
* * Since their advice seemed pointless, I bought a motorcycle instead.
* * And I set a goal of retracing the most important (to me at least) trips of my life. This was no small decision because I should have been killed at age 24 on a wonderfully cold and starry night, with the moon glowing full and low on the horizon, when a motorcycle dumped me on the interstate at something well upwards of 70 miles per hour. Change any variable a pittance and I was most likely broken into pieces. Instead, I found myself curled in a fetal position under a guard rail realizing that 1) I was not only miraculously alive but was mostly unhurt and 2) I had a lot of other things I wanted to do before I got back on a bike.
* * In the next three decades I pursued adventure sports, traveled four continents, raced mountain bikes (the kind you have to pedal), incurred six concussions, and barely avoided being killed by: 1) an allergic reaction to an allergy medication, which was the least spectacular but closest call, since it did stop my heart for a few moments; 2) shots fired at us by drug traffickers while we were on a fly-fishing trip in the Florida Keys; 3) a hardened spike of ancient desert yucca that sliced into a lung during a mountain biking mishap; and 4) a charging lion that fell for a head fake as I ran for a Land Rover.
* * It isn't exactly a couch potato resume, yet during all those years I gazed wistfully at every motorcycle I saw and felt like a failed coward because I wasn't riding one.

So was I really alive and living an exciting life those three decades, or did I die the night I survived that motorcycle accident but didnt get right back on a bike? Am I trying to live fully now, or am I tired and bored and trying to get myself killed by endeavoring to ride a bike everywhere I have been by car, SUV, or van? Or is it just the Viking DNA, long subdued by its Norman and Scot dilutions, finally bubbling to the surface like Scandinavian lava cutting through a glacier?
* * Is the fire winning, or the ice?
* * It is impossible to know the answers to those questions in this realm, but the thought here is, if you're tired and bored, do something different. And ponder more the quality of life and less the quantity.
* * That thought of "quality over quantity" is the one I hope to carry into that great beyond if I am taken out by an avalanche while crossing Alaska's Brooks Range on a road-weary moto. Much better to believe that than to bemoan the years I possibly could have had, if only I had bought another TV and a bag of potato chips.
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:50 PM   #2
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

At 71 I started thinking about stuff like that and I've done a lot of super active, dangerous and thrilling things but I think you may have "quality" confused w "intensity". After all the only thing we really need to achieve in this life is happiness and I doubt if achievments or intensity of experience can achieve that. I've know very happy people that never do wild and profound things**** ....perhaps they have better sense. If I was to be a business man I'd strive to be a good average business man and in all the other things in life do the same. Once you've achieved the state of being average you have the power, the time and stability to do great things probably without realizing they are great. Then It's possible to become happy.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:04 PM   #3
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Quote:
nomadwilly wrote:

At 71 I started thinking about stuff like that and I've done a lot of super active, dangerous and thrilling things but I think you may have "quality" confused w "intensity". After all the only thing we really need to achieve in this life is happiness and I doubt if achievments or intensity of experience can achieve that. I've know very happy people that never do wild and profound things**** ....perhaps they have better sense. If I was to be a business man I'd strive to be a good average business man and in all the other things in life do the same. Once you've achieved the state of being average you have the power, the time and stability to do great things probably without realizing they are great. Then It's possible to become happy.
ooohh good point Eric, this guy is talking about this thrilling life on the edge stuff as "living". *I wasn't reading it as "if you aren't risking your life you aren't living your life" but more as "if you aren't living your dreams you aren't living your life."* ppl my age get so caught up in the rat race he describes, commuting back and forth to work and sitting on the couch the rest of the time... with this idea that "someday" when we retire we'll do that other stuff...*

honestly I think everyone on this form is living life pretty well!* We are out there boating!* Others only dream of the lives we are leading.* I'd rather be cruising than sitting in this cubicle though.* I'll get there.
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Old 03-15-2011, 01:15 PM   #4
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Jennifer and Eric, I think it comes under follow your bliss.* Do what makes you happy.* Fullfilment can come from many ways for different people.* I have a friend who is 92.* He took early retirement and sat on his porch.* He has taken to retirement better than anyone I know.* However, that would drive me crazy.

If you are driven to do dangerous things, by all means have at it.* As you get older (me), you realize the value of family and really good friends.* The more people in your life that you lose, the more you realize this.* When I look at my grandkids, I think that these are probably the last people that will remember I was ever here.* Life is fleeting, and it is not a dress rehearsal.* Live it to its fullest whatever that is to you.
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Old 03-15-2011, 02:27 PM   #5
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Quote:
nomadwilly wrote:
Once you've achieved the state of being average you have the power, the time and stability to do great things probably without realizing they are great. Then It's possible to become happy.
On setting goals:

If you are not just average in your business ventures, perhaps you will have some
real money to pursue those "great things."* To aspire to being average is setting the
bar far to low in my view. As for being happy? I know some pretty well off people that
are happy as a clam!

*
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:23 PM   #6
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Quote:
SeaHorse II wrote:


nomadwilly wrote:
Once you've achieved the state of being average you have the power, the time and stability to do great things probably without realizing they are great. Then It's possible to become happy.
On setting goals:

If you are not just average in your business ventures, perhaps you will have some
real money to pursue those "great things."* To aspire to being average is setting the
bar far to low in my view. As for being happy? I know some pretty well off people that
are happy as a clam!

*

Walt, back in ancient times, when I interviewed for a sales job with Boise-Cascade Corp., I asked the division manager what the average sales rep made including bonuses.* He told me, and asked if I thought that I could do that.* I told him*no. I just wanted to know what the average was. I would make over twice that, and did the first year.* I never strove to be average.

*
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:55 PM   #7
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bow lines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:59 PM   #8
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

"A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams."
John Barrymore
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:24 PM   #9
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Being average is not the American dream and I didn't think anyone would buy into the "average" philosophy but it's something to think about. There was the results of a study done on Yahoo that concluded that up to $75K a year money can buy one happiness but above that it seems to give people more grief and stress than happiness. "real money" is grief and stress Walt**** ....better give some away and if you hav'nt noticed I don't make $75k a year.
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:28 PM   #10
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

As time continues, I have observed that rationalization and desperation have become very strong forces for many*baby boomers.*

Many of those who have*or have created significant*wealth,*have discovered that it cannot buy good health and longer life.**As a result, they have let some level of bitterness enter their lives.

There are*many boaters of modest means who*have*created significant happiness while enjoying*their boats.*

Attitude is everything.*

Let's go cruising.
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Old 03-15-2011, 07:57 PM   #11
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Quote:
nomadwilly wrote:"real money" is grief and stress Walt**** ....better give some away and if you hav'nt noticed I don't make $75k a year.
I can't Eric....You see, I don't get a check from the Alaska oil companies every month
or any kind of a pension. I have to provide for myself and my family. I would if I could
though! Getting a little personal aren't you?

*
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:32 PM   #12
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

how'd this turn into a convo about $$?* I'm with Jay... let's go cruising!!
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:36 PM   #13
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
Henry David Thoreau
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:52 PM   #14
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Don,

When Joseph Campbell said "Follow your bliss" it didn't mean doing whatever makes you happy. It's about doing what makes you you; the real authentic this-is-what-you're-here-for you. This may be you when you're twisted into an impossibly tight spot in your engine room, trying for the umpteenth time to get the ^#$% part installed correctly. The tourist strolling the dock says "Look how miserable it is maintaining a boat". I'd guess most folks on this board would understand the suffering, the frustration, but also the bliss of the moment.

As Eric Brogel says in his song "Safe In The Harbor":

Same men are sailors, but most are just dreamers
Held fast by the anchors they forge in their minds
Who in their hearts know they'll never sail o'er deep water
To search for a treasure they're afraid they won't find
So in sheltered harbors they cling to their anchors
Bank down their boilers and shut down their steam
To wait for the sailors to return with bright treasures
That will fan the dull embers and fire up their dreams

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Old 03-15-2011, 09:01 PM   #15
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Very good, Wolfie.* Your description of bliss is not lost on me.* I never pointed my sons in any direction.* I told them to do the work that fulfilled them.* One became my partner in the development business.* The other became a foreign affairs analyst and writer.* Two very different careers with two very different incomes.* Both feel that they are where they should be.* I am proud of both.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:03 PM   #16
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

So many philosophers, so little boating time.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:10 PM   #17
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Quote:
Jay N wrote:So many philosophers, so little boating time.
I know where you are coming from Jay but considering the name of this thread....it's
not that far off the mark.

*
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:15 PM   #18
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Wolfie, do you have a youtube link to some of your music?
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:39 PM   #19
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

Yeah, that's another project I supposed to be working on. . .

But I do have a vision that soon I'll be on the aft deck of my trawler, camera on a tripod, recording as I pick and sing away. . .

Mostly I know I should do it while I'm still in good health so the kids have something to show the grandkids after they wheel me off to the old folks home.

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Old 03-15-2011, 11:10 PM   #20
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RE: Life: Quantity or Quality

LOVE this thread.

Life I think is really about love. Treat others with love and your life will be filled with love. Fill your life with selfless love for others and you will be happy, whether that is climbing mountains or sitting at a desk. Through all things, through all difficulties, through all joys, excitement, and adventure, through the hardest of times of loneliness and longing to be elsewhere, devote yourself to loving others and your peace will follow you wherever you go. Money, boats, cars, houses, land, lots of people around you...the only lasting piece of life that leads to more life is love. If I devote myself to love, for me, I have found it leads me to the happiness and peace I always sought but never found.
In love there is lasting freedom.

Combine that path of love with boating/cruising...well....doesn't get much better than that (that's the human side of me saying that!).
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