One of the things I like to do to amuse myself is to listen carefully to how people talk. I enjoying hearing new catchphrases come into use and then watch them as they fade away. Some phrases are short-lived, like the long lost “tubular” of the 1980’s, but others seem to take on a life of their own. Occasionally, just occasionally, they actually seem to be pointing to something larger than themselves.
Take for example the term “living on the edge,” or in its more compact form “edgy.” You hear these phrases used quite a bit, especially in the creative and business community. Everyone claims to be looking for someone who is “edgy” or on the “cutting edge” (another mutation of the phrase). We’ve even had songs written about it like Aerosmith’s song “Livin’ on the Edge” (which I could never really warm up to) and Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone” with these lyrics:
Out along the edge
is always where I burn to be
The further on the edge
The hotter the intensity.
Alrighty then! (Yes, I know “alrighty” is not in the dictionary – yet!) The real truth is that all of us are living on the edge right now. You don’t have to be a fighter pilot or a race car driver or some other kind of extreme sports participant. Every single one of us is living on the edge every day and in every moment of our lives. You may not know it but you are living on the edge even as you read this column. Really you are!
The real issue isn’t about being on the edge. The real question is simply this: The edge of what?
The answer to that of course is that no one knows. You can say we’re on the edge of tomorrow (without Tom Cruise I hope) or on the edge of the future and you’d be right. You’d also be saying absolutely nothing, since none of us know what tomorrow, or even later today or just a minute from now, may hold for us. So welcome to the edge, all you safety-conscious people. No matter how careful you are, you can’t control the future, and that’s what we’re all on the edge of every day.
In the midst of our often dull daily routines and workaday lives we are all plunging right off the edge and into the unknown future. The future is not just unknown, it is also unknowable, at least to mere mortals like us.
An entire profession has been created to try and help predict and therefore hopefully shape the future into something beneficial for us. Futurists study trends and make their predictions. Sometimes they are just telling us the obvious; at other times they are right or wrong. But all futurists have one thing in common: they have no idea what they are talking about!
For example everyone agrees that over the next few decades the United States is going to grow increasingly more dependent on digital devices in every area of life. And that’s true until our power grid is knocked out either by some terrorists or just some freak accident. Once that happens we will all be immediately transported back to about 1870 and then we’ll all be living on the edge of yesterday!
I have no idea if that’ll happen and sure hope it won’t. My point is that it certainly could. You see the thing about the future is that as far as we are concerned it’s limitless. There are endless possibilities lying just around the corner for all of us. Not all of them good to be sure, but they are there none the less.
Since that is true then no one has to stay stuck in their routines unless they choose to be. Anyone, and everyone, can start to make a change in their lives and that change can start in the next moment of your unknown future if you choose to take advantage of it. The possibility for you to change is there for you, if you will grasp it.
“But what if I fail?” That’s the question I get a lot. Well heck folks I’ve been struggling with my weight for decades – yes decades! That’s the nice way of saying I’ve tried and failed to lose weight, get in shape and keep it off over and over again. Believe me, failure and I are old companions, if not friends, and I have learned a lot from him.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from failure is this: So what if you fail? You have been neatly provided with yet another opportunity to start again fresh and new and you know where that is right? That’s right, just over the edge you are balanced on right now. So take the plunge, try and do what’s right, and see where the road will take you.
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit the website HERE.