How to Live Dangerously According to Nietzsche, and How I Learned to Love Midnight Hikes
“Send your ships into uncharted seas!” — Nietzsche
“The secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas!… Soon the time will be past in which you had to be content living hidden in forests like shy deer!”
When I read Nietzsche’s words about living dangerously, I thought: “Yes! Danger, here I come!” Then my hubby proposed a nocturnal hike up the mountain, and I squirmed like a shy deer in the forest.
“There are coyotes and rattlesnakes up there. Plus, I’m sure a psychopath or two live on that mountain.”
My newfound philosophy crumbled in a matter of seconds.
Why Does the Philosophy Crumble so Easily
We all want to live dangerously and embrace a life of adventure. We live vicariously through Hollywood movies and books where the protagonist’s escapades make us feel alive.
And then we go back to the boring routine of our lives.
Unfortunately, our current environment does not breed a life of adventure. Adventure demands uncertainty, which we have learned to abhor.
We are no longer uncertain about anything. All answers are literally at our fingertips through the magic of Google (or Bing… I don’t judge). Do you want to know if there’s a God? Google it! You may not get the right answer, but you’ll get AN answer, which is all that matters, right?
We’re so desperate for certainty we’re willing to sell our minds to the highest bidder. “I don’t care if your answer is crap. I just want an answer on which to hang my uncertainty”. Ultimately, a wrong answer is better than no answer.
It is this craving for certainty that prevents us from living the truly amazing life Nietzsche describes. Our hunger for certainty keeps us tethered to a mere existence, where we must resign ourselves to live like shy deer.
Our Fear of Failure Keeps Us Tethered to a Meaningless Existence
“Shy, ashamed, awkward, like the tiger whose spring has failed — thus you higher men, have I often seen you slink aside. A cast which you made had failed. But what does it matter, you dice players!… And if great things have been a failure with you, have you yourselves therefore been a failure? Be of good cheer; what does it matter? How much is still possible! Learn to laugh at yourselves, as you ought to laugh!”
Failure is everywhere! Look around you and you’ll find 1000 ways to fail. Some failures are worse than others, but at the end of the day, they all have the potential to be failures of which to be ashamed.
Success has become our new religion, and we refuse to try anything that does not guarantee success.
We’ve been taught, whether directly or indirectly, that failure is not an option. If you do fail, make sure to keep that embarrassment under wraps, where nobody, even yourself, can see it.
But isn’t the road to success paved with failure? We parrot endless inspirational quotes in favor of failure, but our mouths and our actions are rarely synchronized.
Nietzsche wants us to know that FAILURE IS AN OPTION, and perhaps even a way of living. He invites us to “learn to laugh at ourselves,” because even if you fail, the possibilities for success are still endless. So as famous blue fish would say, “Just keep swimming.”
If you believe success is your only option, you will stagnate your life and devoid it of all meaning.
By inviting us to fail, Nietzsche wants us to avoid the regret and pain from a half-lived life at our deathbed.
”And if you must perish, then do so immediately and suddenly; for in that case you will perhaps leave proud ruins behind you and not, as is now to be feared, merely molehills, covered with grass and weeds.”
How to Embrace Adventure
”To learn to look away from oneself is necessary in order to see many things — this hardiness is needed by every mountain climber.” — Nietzsche
Stop being obsessed with yourself! Look out the window and see the many things out there waiting to be discovered. Nietzsche wants us to let go of our egos, to let go of our fears, and to learn to look away from ourselves in order to see the many wonderful ways in which we can fail.
Failure is important because nothing teaches hardiness better than failure, and hardiness is necessary to live a full life.
So leave your fears at the door and go out and embrace failure!
Meanwhile, I’ll be preparing myself for that nocturnal hike!