Seek Extraordinary

“If you aren’t living on the edge, you are taking up too much space.” – Jim Whittaker

Reincarnation is a cool concept, but I can only locate the receipt for this one particular life so I would like to get some good use of it since it is all I’ve got and already pretty stained up and, presumably, nonreturnable.

It is not my style to tell people how to use theirs. I hate to appear presumptuous. Best I can tell, it is your prerogative to be extraordinary or ordinary or wasteful or a downright jerk with “your one wild and precious life” to borrow Mary Oliver’s poetic phrase. I can still make suggestions.

I suggest taking aim at extraordinary.

I live and work on a university campus. Admittedly, this particular campus is disgustingly awesome, but I think all college campuses are pretty fantastic because they are places where big dreamers and big ideas fall in love and produce miracles.

This is on my mind because we just returned from “Summer in Seattle” at Seattle University, a pre-orientation program for new freshmen and their families, including mine. In the closing session, a vice president shared the quote used as the epigraph for this little essay from an alum of Seattle U who also happened to be the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest. It is a great bumper sticker quote that I loved at first, hated at second, didn’t know what to do with at third, but by the time it reached home I liked it pretty much a whole lot. Hence, my presumptuous suggestion for your life’s consideration:

You can’t be extraordinary playing it safe all the time.¹

I am a fan of safe. I’m a lawyer after all. But playing it safe is only useful if it keeps you safe for something, not just from something.

And I am not a fan of stereotypical thrill-seeking. Those thrills are cheap. But you should seek something that will ultimately be thrilling—just don’t settle for cheap.

I suggest that you seek an extraordinary life. But you get to choose. I hate to appear presumptuous.


¹ See the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30).

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