|Mediocrity or Intensity
By Tom Brown, Jr.
So many people today settle for a life of mediocrity and along with that mediocrity
comes the debilitating ruts people are buried in, and the quiet desperation that Thoreau
talks about. There are many ways to break this vicious cycle of what I call the mediocre
life; with a few simple techniques, a little more drive, and a little less
procrastination, one can turn his or her life around.
The best example I can give of this is an experience two friends and I had in Yosemite
last spring. Not only did it show some of the instructors how to break out of a rut of
mediocrity, but it helped me to verbalize how I feel about living life to its fullest.
We were sitting on some rocks overlooking a small, but powerful waterfall which fell
about 20 feet over a good ledge, and the water was swollen with snow melt and recent
rains. Suddenly, I got up from where we were relaxing and climbed down to the base.
Entering where the current and intensity were t he strongest, I began to climb the very
fall itself I was barely able to cling to the rocks as the near freezing water crashed
over my body.
Halfway up the fall, I looked up to he ledge where the instructors were sitting and saw
them gazing over the edge of the thundering water with a horrified look on their faces.
They really thought I had lost my mind and were sure that I would fall and be crushed on
the rocks below.
As I came nearer to the surface, I could barely hold on as the energy of the fall
rushed through me, filling my body with an intense feeling of excitement and adventure. In
my zest and joy I laughed and screamed, loving every moment of my adventure until I heard
one of the instructors yell down that I was out of my mind. Angrily, I yelled back up at
them about the virtues of living life intensely, fully; not being a spectator along for a
quiet ride as they were doing, settling for quiet mediocrity. I would rather savor life
with all its intensity, squeezing out every drop of excitement and adventure. It's a way
of busting free of the smothering ruts and avoiding the quiet desperation that most people
have to face every day, instead of waking up on one's death bed and realizing they had
never really lived.
Yelling still, I said they had two choices, they could either sit in their quiet
mediocrity for the rest of their lives, or break the habit now and really live. By the
time I made it over the lip of the fall, I knew that fall better than any million tourists
did combined because I lived in it and knew its lusty power and wisdom as if I were born
of it. Back on the rocks, I looked for the instructors. They were gone. Screams of ecstasy
and excitement drew my attention to the fall and there, clinging to the edge of life's
intensity, were my instructors climbing the fall, living more than they had in a week. To
this day, neither of them have ever gone back to the mediocre.
You too can have a life filled with intensity, adventure, and excitement. Every day you
are faced with choices in your life. One way is to follow your same patterns, ruts, and
mediocrity never really living life to its fullest. The other is to find dynamic ways to
grab life by the horns and live it intensely, fully, savoring every moment so that when
death's door does open and you are about to step to the other side, you can say you have