Constituyentes subway station in Mexico City / © 2015 Enrique Márquez Abella

Vertigo for life

Back and forth

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ — John W. Gardner

Nobody warned us that life would be this oscillatory. We were not born with an instruction manual to live and have the perfect response to any situation; but I think it’s not about knowing or calculating everything. Life is not only built from the good experiences, but also from the surprise, fear and bewilderment.

The first years of our life — throughout childhood and adolescence — are a complete battleground; everything that happens at home, what we learn from our family and what we learn out of it, plays a crucial role in our constitution as a person. Every experience we have is sent to our mental laboratory where it is processed to have an effect and generate a reaction that can be either impulsive or -in the best of cases- well thought.

For some years now, in a more conscious and experienced stage of my life, I’ve fallen into account of the many occasions that I did something without thinking twice. I can tell that I’ve been impulsive or irresponsible, and I don’t regret it at all. Fortunately when you’re young and immature you can give yourself permission to make mistakes again and again, as long as it generates some learning. During those early years it would be a mistake to live in fear of being wrong: it would limit us enough to stop doing many things and lose some opportunities. Sometimes, impulses help us jump certain self-imposed barriers and be exposed to a different way of experiencing life. But that‘s not enough; eventually we learn to direct our lives, to have intentions and create appropriate scenarios for ourselves.

I don’t mean that we should go through life premeditating everything we do, because that will drive us to live with that absurd fear towards the situations we face, especially those that merit an important decision. Life is a little mix of awareness and daring, a balance between impulse and restraint.

But staying with this optimistic approach would be denying that life carries a dark side from which we have no escape. Over time, through the experiences we live, our deepest terrors are generated. That damn vertigo with which we go through life making mistakes, backsliding in our most unhealthy and perverse reactions. I’m not suggesting to focus on our most negative characteristics, but to recognize the most powerful shortcomings of our configuration, accept them and deal with them, so we can rethink how we want to live our lives; ease up the time we will be around here, thinking and acting the best we can while we accept the road we already traveled.

“In life what matters is not what happens to you, but how you face it” — J.M. Serrat

Nobody warned us that life would be this oscillatory. We were not born with an instruction manual or to live, but I like to think that despite the bad experiences, we will continue building a life that allows us to be free.


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