Skip to main content

#29: When do you want to start living?

A blue-violet dusk falls over the bay, rippling waves gurgle softly against the hull and a cool breeze embraces the gently rocking sailboat. We anchored here in the afternoon, jumped naked into the cool salt water in the warm summer sun and swam ashore.

When my parents took day trips with our boat, I rarely went along. I preferred to stay home alone and explore the wilderness around our house. But if an overnight stay on the water was in prospect, I was always ready.

Back then, I preferred a slip in a marina, where I could hop directly from the deck to land with my brother. In retrospect, though, the lonely anchorages were the truly magical, life-changing experiences.

I could imagine no one had ever been there before us. We would be the first to discover a new world.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been flying commercial airplanes again – part-time, of course. A new aircraft type, new routes, another new world. My colleague in the cockpit today is also a sailor. On an eight-hour long-haul flight, you have plenty of time to talk and get to know each other. He tells me how he sailed across the Baltic Sea with a friend when he was sixteen, and later crossed the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Martinique in nineteen days.

Not always do we meet people with whom we have so much in common. Lately, however, this has been happening to me more and more frequently. Is it coincidence or rather the universe unfolding? I believe we attract what we radiate.

For me, it’s the will make the most of my life, just as Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”

So often I was reasonable. Chose a respectable, well-paid profession with lots of security. Saved money for a house. And at the same time I lived, made unreasonable decisions. Made the house much bigger than necessary. Reduced my working hours in the cockpit to start my own business, first as a photographer and then as a speaker and trainer.

Who is to say what is reasonable and unreasonable? The societal majority seems to have agreed on definitions, rewound and repeated until they seem to become true. We’ve seen this demonstrated in perfection in the last three years.

That time has triggered an unstoppable change. I know so many people whose eyes have been opened to the fine line our freedom stands on and to how important it is to take fate into your own hands.

With a life expectancy of eighty years, I’m close to the halfway point. The midlife crisis is going strong. For me, it’s just not a sports car, but an expedition truck. Above all, though, I’m preoccupied with questions about meaning, about my further plans for life. What do I want to achieve? What do I want to give to the world?

These past months, I keep thinking of a proverb. We have two lives. The second begins when we realize that we have only one. I believe there is a lot of truth in this.

How often do parents pull their child onward when it is entranced by a dandelion in the sidewalk? “Come on, up there is where we want to go, it’s better there.” This becomes the blueprint for our lives. Tomorrow, come summer, next year, when I retire… but no more!

Life is to be lived now. Without losing sight of the big picture. More on that next week.


Yours, Ulrich

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to the Freedom Letter and receive stories that make you free by email each Friday or see more posts in the overview.