The difference between living and existing

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Since a few years ago, I do a mini review on my birthday of the things I did in the previous year including the high points and low points, places I traveled, and even trivial things like what my favorite songs were. This time I did my usual reflection but also went through these 365 questions. One of the questions was, “What is the difference between living and existing?”

Overall I wasn’t feeling like my year from 35 to 36 was that fantastic. In fact, I felt like the highest point was my 35th birthday party, an ice skating party where I zoomed my chair on the ice, pulling my skating friends and relatives around the rink. After that, I had kidney stones & surgery, a period of high anxiety and no client work, and a variety of other uncertainties that came up along the way. So in hindsight it definitely seemed like that party was the high point, and it probably was.

But when thinking about “living” vs. “existing,” I realized that even though my year wasn’t super spectacular, it meant I was still living. I was taking chances, doing things that other people in my situation don’t do. I was still traveling, working, and doing new things. Even the low points taught me lessons that others might never learn. I learned to drink more water and I learned that I need to do a better job of networking and marketing my business. Now I can act on those lessons and hopefully make 36 to 37 a transition upwards.

Despite the stresses and frustrations, I wasn’t just existing. My frustrations came about because I was doing things, living life. These frustrations are so much better than those that come to other people who aren’t doing anything at all. To me, simply existing means waking up and doing the same things over and over and over and over again without wanting to do anything new, or trying to change, or wanting to change but not doing anything about it. I think a lot of people (with and without disabilities) live this way and it’s unfortunate.

So what do you do to make sure you’re not just “existing?”

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