Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oh, I have been thinking too much again. But this time, I think I’m on to something here. So let me ask you something. What is the difference between living and surviving? And when do we get to finally “live” anyway? Is it our own choice, or not?

“For the past 15 years, I was literally just trying to survive.”

I read this in a comment from one of my YouTube viewers recently and it really stuck out to me. See, even though I’ve been pretty much “healed” for years and even though I’ve created a wonderful life for myself, there is something that I still struggle with: living in survival mode.

As I evolve (which is, in my opinion, a life-long process), I realize that survival mode was necessary for me during times of crisis. And sometimes, if I’m being honest with myself, survival mode FEELS normal. It feels almost empowering, in some ways – like “I got this, I can do this, I can get through anything.”

But reading that comment from one of my amazing fellow empaths led me to a serious lightbulb moment: trying to survive and actually living are two different things. Completely different.

“Fear not that life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning.” ~John Henry Cardinal Newman

See, when you’re trying to survive, you do what you need to do to get by. And when you focus your energy on BEING a “survivor,” what do you attract? More reasons to NEED to SURVIVE.

But when do we stop surviving and start really living? Survival mode could be the only thing you know. Maybe no one taught you how to live or maybe you don’t think you deserve to stop living in survival mode or that you’re not really “there yet,” right?

And when we think of our times of crisis, how many of them could be avoided with proactive behavior, or with more intentional choices? If I’m being honest, there is a pretty high rate of “if only I would have done X” in my own life, where certain crises could’ve been avoided. Truthfully, had I been more proactive and intentional in my choices and the actions I took that followed them, perhaps a large percentage of my stress could have been avoided. Maybe all of them after childhood.

But I couldn’t see that before. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea. It’s like I’ve just woke up, somehow. But now that I know better, I can do better. And I’m going to try to do that, starting now.

So this leads to the question: when it is going to be enough? Will it ever? 

We have to live in the moment, but we have to think about the next moment too. This can get really tricky for those of us who think too much, right? And how do we go about the business of life and still live in the moment? Where does the journey end?

Truth? I think the journey is where we learn to live – but this journey doesn’t end, exactly, except for the actual end.

So when do we get to stop just…trying to survive? What has to happen for us so that we’ll feel like it’s time to live?

I propose that it’s all a state of mind. At some point, we have to change our perspective and recognize that we are living now. Yes, we could stay in permanent survival mode and maybe that’s enough for some people. But I think that if we do that, we are seriously limiting ourselves and our ability to find true peace and happiness. Where is the cutoff point where we recognize that THIS is life?

This moment that you’re in right now? It’s life. The thing you did yesterday, the thing you’re going to do today – what you do tomorrow? Life. Living. That is what we have.

We have to stop “waiting until” some event happens or stop waiting for our kids to grow up or for our finances to get in order – we have to start living now. Life is too short to just exist and survive – this is one of the good things about being a sentient human. We can CHOOSE to live with intention rather than just trying to survive. What do you think?