We Are Soft

I learned something at TEDxMcGill yesterday.

Most of us do not go to Nicaragua and talk to people whose cities are run by gangs. Nor do we get on the Mississippi River in a raft and allow ourselves to drift for over 3 months in order to learn about what’s happening there.

We do feel that we work hard on our projects. We do work out. We do get out of our comfort zone. Maybe some people can’t stomach more, and I should be fine with that.

But I’m not.

I’m not because I have a feeling that everyone wants to do these things. We want adventure. We want romance. We want to do the impossible.

But somehow most of us don’t… and I include myself in that list.

The world is so big. We are capable of so much. Why is it so often the very few that do stuff all of humanity can be proud of?

Here is a documentary I just watched, about a bunch of anarchists that made a boat and went sailing with it.

In another life, that could have been you, or it could have been me.

Why wasn’t it?






8 responses to “We Are Soft”

  1. Marcella Avatar

    There’s something very special about opening up Google Reader and seeing the word “Nicaragua” on the screen. 🙂 Not going to lie, hanging around neighborhoods like the ones you mentioned never makes me feel any more “hard” or “intense” than I feel normally — just maybe extremely frustrated and disheartened. I did a lot of that “hard core” stuff during my time working at American Nicaraguan Foundation, and, in my case, being hard core only ever made me feel more exasperated and helpless. Better than being soft, though…

  2. Ryan G Avatar

    Existential Julien. We are soft man. It’s terrible. We have so much luxury and convenience in modern society, but it comes with a price. Few are able to break free of the Great Modern Mouse Trap.

    The Pixar movie WALL-E gives us a glimpse to where Western thinking could lead. Not that I think we could ever really end up there b\c we would likely be annihilated by a not-so-soft civilization before we reached that point. But in theory.

  3. Howard Stein Avatar

    We don’t all want to raft on the Mississippi River for three months. I’d go out of my mind. I was thinking about this as I read an Amazon excerpt of Tim Ferris’s book. Deciding whether to read it. I don’t want more vacation time. I don’t want to lie in a hammock. I don’t want to race Motoguzzis in the Arabian desert. Or climb in the Himalayas. I don’t want to run anywhere.
    I want to stay right here. At home where I work. To make my work better than I ever imagined it could be. That is adventure. To work deeper, stronger, leaner, bigger, meaner. I want to befriend more people right here whom I can call friend. I want to rid myself of cartons and drawers of stuff I never use or look at. A cleaned simple place. Because I live in New York and I step outside the door and it is so brilliantly energized and unexpected and populated, I just want home to be a place of forming foundation. And set up another trip to Paris of course.

  4. Howard Stein Avatar

    Wow. Richard Holbrooke just died. To listen to the rundown of what this man accomplished and the way he lived his life as one of our most powerful and successful diplomats, makes me pause and reflect on what it is I do with my life.

  5. Justin Emig Avatar

    Exceptional Julien. Without coming out and stating it, you just summed up the mentality of ‘the masses’. We are all cogs in the machine with the constant ‘Who Me?’expression on our face. Always feeling it is the ‘chosen’ ones who obtain this sort of success or the adventurous ones who get to take part in those various activities. We have brainwashed ourselves that we are not good enough or not one of the chosen ones. Very well done.

  6. John McLachlan Avatar

    I’m with Howard. Sometimes the most courageous thing to do is live a quieter life with less moving about. Obviously, to each his own and I firmly believe people should do what’s right for them.

    I guess your point, Julien, is that most of the time we don’t do (or don’t do) the things we know deep down we want to do and that’s the crime.

  7. Matt Clark Avatar

    I get this, however my wife and I decided to take action. Two winters ago, we drove to Baja. Myself, Allison, Nathan my son 6, and Georgia 4. We spent the winter off the track, and helped out at an orphanage.

    The fear is the only thing holding you back. Push past that and the experience is amazing. My kids have become better for it.

    Last winter we moved to the UK another great experience. Back in Canada now and planning the next adventure!

  8. Simon Tooley Avatar

    I was cleaning up my e-mails and found this post. I keep all of your posts because if I don’t have the time to read them when they come in I know I need to take the time to read them when I can think. When I am not going as fast as I always seem to be going. I am going slow this Saturday morning and I could take the time to read it. Read it again. Watch some, not all of the video, and then come back to do this.
    Matt Clark has the answer. It is fear. We have a choice in life. Fear or Love or God or the Universe. Whatever name you want to put on the opposite of fear that you are comfortable with. Except we aren’t. We choose fear most of the time because as ridiculous as that is, it seems safer.
    Keep these coming Julian. They help me chip away at my fear.

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