I have previously written on the ‘myths’ of linearity when it comes to conceptualizing what living means or when it comes to living life itself. The ‘myth’ is the idea that life enfolds along a more or less defined and straight forward continuum, with each transition anticipated and societally expected. Childhood, school, university, jobs, mortgage, house, wife, kids, retirement all spin into a thread linking each age and stage of the human experience. I want to hit the ‘pause’ button here and talk about a new scenario: Bite Sized-Living.
What if we experienced life as a series of incredibly delectable, sumptuous bite-sized moments and experiences? What if we lived many mini experiences rather than one cohesive and predictable narrative? What if each experience left us deeply satisfied yet craving just a little bit more? What if that left-over hunger propelled us into the next moment that was equally as satisfying and delightful as the former?
I believe that our generation, us Millennials, are extremely empowered to explore this new way of experiencing life. We have already demonstrated our propensity to hop between jobs and careers rather than pledging allegiance to one firm and one role as many from the Boomer generation did before us. Some business thinkers, like Carla Harris, believe that many Millennials will experience multiple careers not just jobs throughout their lifetime. She talks about having 6-8 career ‘modules’ of 5 years each at 5 to 6 different companies (see Chapter 1: Strategize to Win, 2014).
I believe that this concept of career modules can also be painted into the art of living. How many times do we dream of taking that dance class, of going scuba diving, of writing that book, of spending three months in Cambodia only to sigh wistfully thinking ‘not in this lifetime’? What if we boldly took a bite out of each thing we’ve dreamed of experiencing even if it is only for a day, a week, a month, a minute? Take that one French class even if you never so much as utter a word in French again. Dye your hair blonde even if you quickly realize you really are a brunette. Take a different route to work, an unwalked street always passed but never explored. Savour just a moment of something new, something novel, something dreamed about and now realized, even if it is only fleeting and temporary.
We have the tools and the resources to experience so much of what the world has on offer today due to our incredibly advanced transportation, telecommunication, financial and social systems and structures. Information, connection and sharing mean that we are free to learn about and explore many aspects of life and many parts of ourselves, both of which lend themselves to the possibility of a life of great adventure.
What are some of my bite-sized moments? Four months in Paris. A trapeze course. Two Arabic classes. Five months on the accordion. A couple TV auditions. Ten days working at the rodeo. A morning on the Great Wall of China. A summer as a (really bad) barista. Another summer as (an even worse) bartender. A few months as a designer salesgirl.
The linear life is so universally appealing because it comes with a safety clause. Predictability is safe. Plans and trajectories are safe. Leaps of faith and pathways into the unknown are inherently risky, even if only in our minds.
I have recently taken my own leap of faith into the next adventure, satisfied with how much I’ve tasted of my year and a half in my current job and hungry for the next chapter. Of course there is a base-line discomfort and anxiety leaving behind the known for the unknown. I can’t ignore the voice within, however, urging me to try bite-sized living, so great is the number of things I’d love to try and experience. This inevitably means experiencing continual endings and beginnings which can be stressful, confusing and times full of doubt, as I know from first-hand experience. The key to bite-sized living is never using the words “forever” or its converse “never”. If we get into “this is forever” or “this will never happen again” thinking, we build within ourselves resistance to the flow of bite-sized living. Bite-sized living is about remaining wide-open to possibility, to change, while not clinging on to endings for dear life but rather using them as an exciting launching pad into the next adventure.
This post is quickly surpassing a ‘bite-sized’ length (!) so I’ll leave it with this:
Bite-sized living will not appeal to everyone. Some individuals thrive on stability and a deep sense of rootedness. And that is fantastic. I do believe that in all of us, however, are dreams and cravings that we simply write off or push to the wayside, filed away in an ‘impossible’ folder. So you’ll never make it to the Tour de France? Get on your bike anyways. You’ll never win an Oscar? Sign up for that three-month drama class anyways.
Take a bite out of life. And then another. We only have one life on earth – taste as much as you can.