Motivation for living

Question of the Day, July 21, 2011 – Motivation for living

What keeps you willing to stay alive? What motivates you to get out of bed and live your life?

That’s a really interesting question.

So many levels to the answer.

At one level, so much of what I do seems to be the result of evolution by natural selection operating at at least two major levels, and many minor levels.

My body seems to be one of the end points of some 4 billion years of lines of evolving genetic entities, as is every other living thing on this planet. Every one of us sharing common ancestors, most of us sharing billions of them.

Life has transformed the planet, changed both the oceans and the atmosphere. Given us an atmosphere with almost 20% oxygen, and only tiny traces of CO2 (whereas Venus has an atmosphere made up mostly of CO2 and methane and ammonia – without life to change its atmosphere, it is a hot lifeless place – as Earth would be without life).

So many levels of chemical processes that power the cells in my body, keep them cooperating in making my body work, change my food into me, keep me breathing, make my senses and brain work.

Then there is the evolution of language and culture, all the things that made the birth of my languaging consciousness possible in a declaration in language by my child self.

There are all the levels of ecosystem interconnections, that convert sunlight into energy, produce all the animals and plants that are essential for my own survival.

There are all the great thinkers and doers who have gone before us, who gave us the scientific, philosophical, technological, political, legal, and security systems that were simply present at our births.

All of that legacy hints at the possibility of creating systems that sustain individuals in freedom and security; encouraging them to cooperate with other free individuals – giving the possibility of infinite explorations of the realm of the real, and the realm of the possible.

Mixed in with the possibilities available, are the more mundane needs of the moment, to eat, to stay warm, to look after family and friends; and the more immediate possibilities of fun, joy, play.

Then there are contracts and agreements entered into, social groups, connections.

It seems far too interesting a raft of possibilities available to willingly end life – so each day, I get out of bed, stretch, evacuate unwanted materials from the body, and put a fresh set of liquids and solids into it; and start a new day.

[followed by]

That thing that called me back – the idea that maybe, just maybe, I can do something positive toward creating a life for all that is secure with as much adventure as anyone is willing to choose.

Next to that was the thought of the situation I was leaving my wife and daughter in – not exactly secure.

I don’t fear death, it just seems such a waste of opportunity.

[followed by]

I like the river analogy too.

I’ve spent most of my life in and around boats and water. Several years of my childhood next to NZ’s longest river, the Waikato. I’ve swum, canoed, rowed, out-boarded, jet boated, rafted, – you name it – from calm to flood conditions. Rivers can be extremely peaceful, to extremely violent, all it takes to change is rainfall somewhere upstream – much like life – one moment floating peacefully along, and the next the consequences of actions elsewhere catch up to us and slam us with a wave and we’re in turbulent water fighting for our lives.

That seems to be the nature of this journey called life.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
This entry was posted in Question of the Day. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Motivation for living

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – I LOVE this statement that you made:

    “I don’t fear death, it just seems such a waste of opportunity.”


Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s