This entry is about living your life in excess but bear with me for a few moments as I share a story with you from my recent past. I was working at The Tiki Tobacco Barn – a name that may not make sense except that it was a cigar shop located on the property of a Tiki Bar. It was an average day when an older guy (about 65ish and we’ll call him Bob) came in with a younger couple (guessing late 20s). While the young couple went into the humidor to pick out cigars, Bob decided to engage me in conversation. I had the shop television on and the series NCIS was on. This was during football season.
I replied, “Not so much. I think it’s over-rated.”
“Oh,” Bob replied. “You must be a hockey fan.”
“Not really,” I said. “I’m not much of a sports fan in general.”
“Oh,” Bob said, starting to look a bit confused. “You must drink a lot of beer then, huh? I bet you drink a lot of beer.”
“No, sir,” I said. “I don’t drink.”
“What?” Bob looked perplexed. He thought for a minute before saying anything. “You must smoke some marijuana then, huh? I bet you do. I’ve smoked a lot of marijuana in my day.”
“Well,” I said to Bob with a big grin on my face, “since I’m a police officer, no… I don’t smoke marijuana either.”
Bob really looked confused beyond expression at that point. The fact that he’d been bragging about smoking dope to a police officer didn’t seem to bother him even the tiniest bit. His reaction did surprise me though. After he let his brain churn some more he finally said, “Well, what the hell kind of man are you? You don’t like sports? You don’t drink? You don’t do drugs? You’re no kind of man at all.” And then he turned and stalked out of the shop like I had ruined his day.
Mind you, it didn’t bother me a bit if I had ruined his day. Bob was a local fixture who was a general pain in the ass. Any day I could make his day a bit more frustrating was a good day in my book, especially if it ended with him leaving my shop. The young couple bought a cigar each, got them cut and lit and then went on their way to go find him – as they giggled after I shared with them what had happened while they were in the humidor.
A couple years later now I sometimes remember this experience and have to wonder. It seems obvious that Bob only felt I was a man if I did something to excess. I had to be a big sports fan. I had to drink lots of beer. I had to smoke a lot of dope. Knowing Bob and having seen him around the Tiki Bar more than I’d care to admit, I was pretty sure Bob didn’t understand the word “moderation.” In his world you either went overboard or you didn’t even start.
It dawned on me that there is something I fully believe in doing to excess: living life. I look around and see quite a few people who seem to be just passing through life. They get up, get ready for work, go to work, spend the day at work, go home, fix and eat dinner and then binge whatever on Netflix while they become one with their sofa. They are on auto-pilot and just passing through the days. They are not living moment to moment as I perceive it.
Those who live life to its fullest and, indeed, into excess if that’s possible, are squeezing the most out of every moment. Yes, I understand that we all have the mundane day to day duties we have to tend to. In fact, as I write this I’ve just finished washing the breakfast dishes and I have laundry going. I have a full work day ahead of me (and this is part of it). But I don’t anticipate spending any part of my day on the sofa watching television. There is exercise in there. There is mentoring a friend in there. There is research and learning and some charitable work in there. There is planning in there for two trips that are upcoming. There won’t be any watching sports, drinking beer or smoking dope. I don’t have time for that. There are too many other ways I can actively enjoy life.
Now I understand that outlook isn’t for everyone. For some, the ultimate enjoyment IS sitting on the sofa watching football and drinking beer. If that’s YOUR idea of milking the most out of life, more power to you. Ignore what I’m saying. If, however, you feel like that’s just how you pass time when there’s nothing better to do, then I challenge you to find something better. In today’s world it’s too easy to get on the Internet and search your local area for activities of interest. Do you like history? Go find some. Do you like wine tasting? Go find one. Do you like boating? Fishing? Camping? Hiking? Hunting? Sight-seeing? GO DO IT.
Live life on YOUR terms to excess. Don’t spend excessive amounts of time on those things that merely pass time and don’t enrich your life. And please, for the love of everything that is good, don’t judge others based on what they do or don’t do to excess. Excess in any behavior is not indicative of whether or not a person is successful or mature. It’s a lesson I learned thanks to my Uncle Don Ingram at the grand old age of twelve: drinking, smoking and cussing doesn’t make you a man. The acres of grass that he made me mow with a 20” deck push mower DID contribute to my maturity levels.