What’s your biggest fear?

Sorry, I know we just started this conversation, and, like, we’re getting deep pretty quickly here. Kind of like when at my birthday drinks recently one of my friends asked another friend (they had only just met); ‘do you want cake?’ and my other friend misheard the question as ‘do you want kids?’ The look on his face. It was marvellous. He was all ‘I mean… not right now… maybe later… when the timing is right…’ and my other friend was thinking ‘I only asked this dude if he wants some cake?’

Anyway. Back to you.

What’s your biggest fear?

That curling voice of terror that whispers in your ear sometimes, in the darkest hours of the night, filling you with doubt? The whisper in the wind, the growl in the shadows. The fart under the sheets you’re hoping your boyfriend didn’t hear but you both know he totally did. What’s that thing that you most dread, in your most vulnerable moments?

When girls apply to our Salty Souls Experience retreats, we ask them this exact question. You know what 8 out of 10 of them say?

Some variation of: “I’m scared of not living my life to the fullest.” 

I’m scared. They say. Scared of getting to my deathbed not creating the thing I wanted to create, not doing the thing I wanted to do, not exploring what I wanted to explore. I spent too much time at work and not enough time cartwheeling naked across beaches across the world. I spent too much time stressing and not enough time making out. I’m scared of investing all my time in doing the ‘right’ kind of life, while the life I truly want runs in a parallel universe alongside me, a dancing creature weaving in and out beside me, forever out of reach? 

But what does it mean?

For me, living life to the fullest has not meant ticking a million things off my bucket list. It’s not having wild nasty sex with a new lover every week. Nor is it accomplishing a billion things, filling every square inch of my life with productivity. It’s not being ecstatic, or even happy all the time.

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It’s simply this; I go where the life is.

I know when I’m close to the life, I feel pressed right up against her breathing belly, I can hear her blood pounding in her veins. And you have this resolution, this feeling, a this is it. You’re meant to be here. You know you’re on-track, even if you can’t explain why. When I learnt to surf, moved to Central America, started writing articles and publishing them online. When I started a business overseas. The life was there, she was pounding this big-ass drum, waiting, calling me in, going yes! yes! yes!

But this can’t be confused for options.

There will be many options that sound cool, look cool, will-get-you-a-shit-ton-of-likes-on-insta cool. But it’s not the life. It was ‘the life’ for someone else.

“The more options we’re given (i.e., the more “freedom” we have),” writes Mark Manson, the author of Everything Is Fucked, A Book About Hope, “the less satisfied we are with whatever option we go with. If Jane has to choose between two boxes of cereal, and Mike can choose from twenty boxes, Mike does not have more freedom than Jane. He has more variety. There’s a difference. Variety is not freedom. Variety is just different permutations of the same meaningless shit.”

Make a choice

When I was eighteen I did one of those backpackers tourbus tours. Something like 12 countries crammed into a 5 week tour. We were changing countries so much and seeing jaw-dropping view, timeless museum, and cool famous landmarks so often they started to lose their feeling. I was so busy trying to see it all, it started to feel like I saw nothing. Living life to the full? I was grateful, but ‘the life’ was barely even a whisper. When I moved into Central America I stayed, and did it slow, discovering new layers of this particular part of the world each month, uncovering new layers of myself in the process.

We have variety. Many of this audience, the Salty community, can pick a place on a map and fly there. We can start businesses overseas, we probably have new ideas every week for viable business ideas. Or, we can study creative writing or dentistry. We can stay single, get married, have three babies, or spend our weekends in underground sex dungeons around our city being whipped by a 63 year old leather-clad dominatrix called Velma. Really, we can do whatever, and we can do a lot. But when we try to do it all, or despair that we can’t do it all, thats when we end up in a pickle, and end up being nowhere at all.

So now, I’ve put a microscope to one place on Earth and decided that place, at least for now, it’s this. Northern Central America. My sport is surfing. My craft is writing.

Best-life pressure

I’m also aware there is a lot of pressure around this ‘live life to the full’ ‘have no regrets’, ‘live a remarkable life’ thing. It can leave us guessing wether we’re doing enough, being enough, having enough. Living a remarkable life does not mean you have to change the world. It doesn’t mean you have to publish a NY times bestseller, or become the best big-wave surfer on earth, or invent the new Instagram, or make seven figures on your business, or cross two hundred things off your bucket list. Take a deep breath. Let the pressure to be all. the. things. fall off your shoulders. Put your ear to the earth. And simply ask, does the life feel strong where you are right now? In your relationships, your activities, your life set-up.  Or can you hear the blood pounding somewhere else? What if you started to follow that.

If that question is a bit too crystal-yoni-eggs and universal-love for you, let’s put it this way: where do you feel most like yourself? Your real self, your true self, that makes you go ‘Yep. Here I am.’ What are you doing? What are you wearing? Who are you with? Where are you?

For me, I’m barefoot, getting around in my underwear and bikini top, post-surf, typing articles out on my laptop, somewhere hot and sticky.

What’s yours?

Now go follow that.

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