Life Has 2 Cliffhangers: Which Cliff Will You Hang Off Of?

The adventure of life is toward either of these two cliffs:

  1. The exploratory cliff
  2. The regretful cliff

Both overlook a pool of uncertainty.

The exploratory cliff leaves you in the unknown and uncertain of the future.

The regretful cliff makes you uncertain as you look back on what you didn’t explore.

Forgoing the exploration leaves you on a perpetual cliffhanger guessing what life could’ve been. This is the cliff I don’t want to be on. I’d imagine the feeling of being left hanging forever unable to pull myself up because I’ve run out of time.

Like a bad movie that keeps you on a perpetual cliffhanger, the regretful cliff gnaws at you for wasting time.

Thankfully, while we have the time, we can choose which cliff to head towards as our day runs anew.

The Direction

Nestled in a bed of trees overlooking a remote, yet deeply personal, intimate waterfall, this cliff is your exploratory cliff. This is the cliff only you know how to get to. Only you know what sparks your curiosity to get there.

So as we follow passion, we are en route to the exploratory cliff.

This seems like run-of-the-mill self-help advice made to sound metaphorical with the help of my metaphorical cliffs. We could do without the fluff and summarize this post into: follow your passion or else regret will follow.

Pretty common, right?

Well, why do so many live every day like it’s not their last? I often hate when people make generalizations about the population that stem from their faults. Scratch that first statement, why do I feel like this sometimes?

The direction you’re heading in implies a destination.

But, neither cliff has a destination, cause both, I said, are made of uncertainty.

If both don’t have a destination, how do you know which cliff you’re heading to?

The exploratory cliff is founded on challenges. And when you make progress on those challenges you incrementally experience joy and motivation. The right amount of challenge and progress makes you an emotional tour de force.

The regretful cliff is the opposite. Demoralizing. Bottomless. Easy.

If you don’t push consciously towards exploration, the regretful cliff inevitably finds you.

Exploration Leads to Expansion

An exploratory life makes for self-expansion.

In the book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that self-expansion requires differentiation and integration of the self. We accomplish both by engaging in flow. Since flow requires new challenges to be met, we are always exploring in the flow state.

Differentiation refers to developing a uniqueness in the world. Integration is the ability to take that uniqueness and live symbiotically with society.

The opposite of differentiation is dullness and conformity. And if you’re not integrated, you will never understand your place and purpose in the world.

Seek the exploratory cliff.

A Spark in the Right Direction

A spark that directs course to the unknown exploratory cliff can arrive anytime. Will you seize it?

Moses did. He saw that burning bush and heeded its call.

Michael did. There have been so many great Michaels that I find it hard to single one out.

God did. Now come on, you saw that coming if you know who Dj Khaled is.

But actually, God didn’t cause he is the one who provided us with that spark. Now don’t be like Jonah hesitating to answer the call. Jonah jumped off the regretful cliff en route to the belly of the beast, but he came to his senses and eventually steered towards exploration.

Your Life’s Cliffhanger

Your feelings about life are a great proxy for knowing which cliff you’re headed to.

In the throws of anxiety, I felt restricted and had a severe case of FOMO. I was 20, and I wasn’t involved in anything that pushed my boundaries of exploration. This comfort led to the discomfort I felt about my life.

For many, this discomfort can act as a spark. It did for me, but the spark only grew into a fire because I acted despite my anxiety. The fire intensified and my feelings about life improved.

If you’re feeling anxious about the future, chances are you’re not doing enough exploring in the present. The same is also true if you’re regretful of the past. Remember, both cliffs have no destination. The regretful cliff puts you in perpetual agony. Seek the exploratory cliff and your life will be a perpetual, yet exhilarating cliffhanger.

Great movies have a cliffhanger and never leave the audience on it. The same goes for life towards the exploratory cliff. The more you explore, the more you uncover the uncertainty.

Now when you seek exploration, uncertainty turns into actuality and you can leave your movie satisfied.


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