When I was staying at Sky Hostel in Tel Aviv, I met a full-time traveler from Australia who goes by the name “Temu.” He was quite an interesting guy, and I’ve been peeking in on his blog periodically ever since.
I’d like to share with you here an article he wrote a couple of weeks ago that rang particularly true with me – it’s called “Life Fades.” Here’s the original link.
I first started noticing this phenomenon in my mid-20s, and starting framing the fragmented ideas into coherent thoughts while trecking through India (June 2008). The following is an edited copy of a two e-mails that I sent an old friend last month…
I have a fading hypothesis — that the intensity of life fades over time. It’s as though life is a drug and you build an immunity to it. Over time you need to increase the amount of ”life/hour” to maintain your excitement with existence.
This is why change is good. It brings more life experience. You always need to have a glint of uncertainty and fear to help you tap into your stronger emotions.
The seeds of my fading hypothesis came from realising that I don’t really cry anymore. I have a vague memory of a time when there were higher highs and lower lows… and crying. It was linked to a time when there was still so much newness in the world.
I think that first experiences are wonderful things. Discovery is a wonderful thing. But you can’t do something for the first time twice. I ran this theory past another person and they had an anecdote about their dad. He was holding his wife’s hand when she died, and that was a big moment for him. After that, other things (like the birth of future children in a future marriage) didn’t seem quite as amazing. Still good I’m sure, but not the same.
The first time I flew an airplane solo was amazing. I still enjoy flying, but I’ll never get that “first-time” feeling back.
Some of my friends play poker for a living. They used to love poker, but now they play so often that they don’t really enjoy the game anymore.
The first time I tripped on magic muchrooms was a “life-changing” experience… precisely because the sensation was so different from anything I had ever known that it felt spiritual. Trips are still fun, but no longer life-changing.
Before I had any experience with you evil girl creatures I used to be scared of you. It made dating difficult and it made me awkward, but it made the rewards (ie when I got a girlfriend) all the more amazing in the end. I’m a bit more used to you crazy women creatures now. I still like women and still have fun, but I can never get back that nervous excitement that came from not really knowing what I was doing. Those wonderful, horrible moments when I’m stumbling in the dark.
Look at the excitement of children as they discover the world. See if you can get equally excited by the idea of a bug or bubble-wrapping. Indeed, perhaps that’s half the appeal of having children?
But the excitement of bubble-wrapping, or having your first girlfriend, doesn’t return… so we need to look for more life experiences to add that essential uncertainty to life so that we can feel the passion, fear and heartbreak that gives life it’s intensity.
That is why I travel.