A professor at university once said to me, “the world is a roller coaster and economic policy is designed to smooth out the bumps.” He went on to explain that, “bumps represent unpredictability”, and, “naturally, we don’t want a world of unpredictability.”
It seems we spend our entire lives trying to smooth out bumps: in our financial life, professional life, family life… And while I’m the first to admit I’ve enjoyed the fruits of living in a city (Sydney) that’s obsessed with smoothing out bumps, the past month in Montreal has taught me that I MUCH PREFER ROLLER COASTERS!
In our quest for status quo, I think we forget that smoothing out the bumps doesn’t just mean fewer lows; it also means fewer highs. Also, as a result of smoothing, those highs become much less articulated.
Truth be told, it was only 6 months ago that I realised what I’d done about 10 years prior (when I left high school): I unwittingly exchanged a life of highs and lows (i.e. adventure) for a life of security and predictability (i.e. status quo). Only now, I see the virtues of those highs and lows and I think I want them back. No, I’m sure I want them back; bring on the roller coaster.
A fellow traveler recently suggested the great thing about Montreal is that the frigid winter drives people wild for the summer. And he’s right; the citizens of Montreal really live it up when the mercury rises. Our quaint little apartment in Le Plateau is constantly surrounded by flowing festivals, buzzing markets and shows that make your hair stand on end. There’s so much energy that you wonder if the government’s added something to the tap water.
I’m not suggesting that you need to endure sub-Arctic temps to enjoy life, but it’s an example of how enduring lows can lead to greater highs. I can comfortably say I’ve never witnessed such energy in Sydney, as I have in Montreal during summer.
Another example is meeting people on the road. Let’s be honest, you meet a lot of crazy people and a lot of people who just don’t float your boat. But I’ve been surprised at how many truly awesome people I’ve met. People who actively try to make a difference all over the world, not just talk about it.
Of course, avid travelers are constantly haunted by the heartache of leaving good times and great people behind. It’s actually painful. But it’s a necessary pain for, what I think, is a necessary adventure. An adventure that leaves you with a grin from ear-to-ear as you travel on a rickety bus destined for nowhere in particular.
Don’t get me wrong, there are countless benefits to a world of security and predictability. And maybe when we speak in a few years from now, I’ll extol the virtues of raising children in a more conservative society… maybe. But for now, I’m think there’s one life and there’s no time like the present to make the most of it. All aboard the roller coaster.