Live on the Straight and Narrow or On the Edge?

A debate.

Posted Nov 08, 2019

Wonderlane, Flickr, CC 2.0
Source: Wonderlane, Flickr, CC 2.0

Most of us live life in the middle, but occasionally, wisps of wonder enter consciousness: "Should I tiptoe off-center?"

Perhaps this debate will help you clarify.

Straight and Narrow Mo: My life is lower-stress. I chose a career that’s in-demand, am diligent about doing my job, fund my 401k rather than overspend, and am monogamous. Oh, and I don’t take drugs, maybe a glass of wine once a week but that’s it.

On the Edge Ed: You’re plodding through life in one shade of gray, let alone even a hint of purple. I don’t want a life in software or accounting, let alone for 50 hours a week. In my cool graphics gigs, although I'm so-called "full-time," I can slide by working just 20. I have fun on my Harley, go to concerts—yes, while high—I'm fashion-forward—clothes, tats, piercings. And I don’t want a lifetime of monogamy—just look at all those unhappy or flat marriages that break up or stay together out of inertia or “for the kids.”

Straight and Narrow Mo: You don’t worry that working minimally on “cool, graphic gigs” won't be an option, especially as you get older in that young-person's game? That your life will be scary without savings, instead having relentlessly spent money and time to look and act this season’s version of cool? Aren't you afraid that dancing from quickie relationship to quickie relationship will end up feeling empty? That doing drugs is slowly frying your brain?

On the Edge Ed: Those things may or may not happen, but meanwhile, I’m enjoying my life while you’re trudging through yours.

Straight and Narrow Mo: I don’t feel like I’m trudging. I enjoy my work, at least a lot of the time. I enjoy my marriage much of the time. And my avocations are fun: I play in a softball and a bowling league, enjoy listening to recorded music rather than frittering $500 on a pair of tickets, and my wife and I have fun with our cute little doggie, Godzilla.

On the Edge Ed: Maybe when I’m older that’s fine, but that’s a long way away. I sure don’t want to live like that for a lifetime. 401k? The world could blow up before I cashed that out. Whatever little saving I'm doing is in Bitcoin—it’s exciting to see it go up and down. It’s like Vegas but with better odds, I hope. Wouldn’t you rather live an exciting life than just bumping down the road, bumpety, bump, bump, bumpety, bump, bump?

Straight and Narrow Mo: My life isn’t monotonous. I keep learning new things on the job and I get good opportunities because I'm diligent and because my mind and motivation aren't impaired by substance abuse. My marriage continues to grow—Sure, we don’t have as much sex as when we first met, but we continue to figure out new ways to enjoy each other’s company. For example, we just started taking a dance class and we really enjoy it.

On the Edge Ed: But you’re sooooh coloring within the lines, those oh-so-restrictive lines There’s a more mind- and life-expanding world outside the boundaries of the staid: travel to exotic places, going on meditation retreats and, yes, the pleasures of sex, drugs, and rock and roll—There's more to life than the missionary position. I recall the time my sweetie and I hopped on my motorcycle, drove down the coast, and had sex on the beach so close to where we could be discovered. Exciting! You wouldn’t do that.

Straight and Narrow Mo: All your risk-taking strikes me as—to be honest—a little sophomoric. But that said, throughout this discussion, I’ve been preoccupied with defending my lifestyle. Some of what you say is intriguing. Maybe I should take a baby step in your direction.

On the Edge Ed: Now that you mention it, I guess I've been too hell-bent on defending my edgy, okay, risky life, and yes, some of your lifestyle is attractive to me—A little stability and de-stressing wouldn’t, ahem, kill me. Maybe I should take a baby step in your direction.

The takeaway

Dear reader, did either of our protagonists say anything that makes you want to—if only as an experiment—take a baby step off-center?

I read this aloud on YouTube.