I spent seven years working at a Boy Scout camp. In my second year at Peaceful Valley, I started working with the Order of the Arrow ceremonies team (I am not in this picture, but it gives you the idea of what I was doing). When it came time to give a full commitment to the project, which meant later nights, hard work, and no additional pay, I discussed it with my camp director, a former OA team member.
When I expressed that my biggest concern was being tired and staying up a couple of hours later two nights a week, he gave me a response that has impacted my way of thinking about life experiences more than he may realize.
“You will always remember the fun things you did, but you will rarely remember being tired.”
I did join the ceremony team. It was an amazing experience that led to a new job at the camp and a long list of wonderful memories. I will never forget our “post-pre” (only about a dozen people in the world know what that means, and it should stay that way) shenanigans. I will never forget the friends that I made. I will never forget the lives I impacted. I hardly remember being tired.
I still hold to that advice today. Whether I am on a Wednesday night ride with the Denver Cruisers or dancing the night away downtown on a weekend, I try to take every opportunity to go live my life.
I have many friends who have told me that they “don’t go out” or give lists of excuses to stay in. While I agree that going to bed early to wake up and climb a mountain is a good reason to stay in on a Saturday night, many people stay in because they are avoiding life. (The same excuses come up outside of going out on a weekend)
Some people avoid life because they do not want to spend money. Some people avoid life because they are afraid of being tired. Some people avoid life because they had a single bad experience. Others, even some that are younger than me, say that they are too old for whatever activity I have invited them to join. The common theme, though, is that they are all avoiding life.
A wonderful author hit the nail on the head when he wrote that we will almost always regret the experiences we missed out on but will rarely regret the experiences we had.
We are only given a short time on this planet. We can use it to change the world, make memories, and impact the people around us. Any of those sounds better than sitting at home or killing time with some mundane activity.
This Wednesday when I go to happy hour, this Friday when I go to Shabbat dinner, this Saturday when I meet my family for shachrit and lunch, and this Saturday night when I will undoubtedly be out past my bedtime causing a ruckus with friends, I will be living my life to the fullest. I encourage you to do the same.