Which is it? Out, or alive? What is it all for?

It doesn’t matter what your “it” is.

One of the most frequently asked questions at DBC is “wait, should I bias toward completion of challenges, or deep understanding of the stuff I complete?”

And the teacher’s answer is always the same,  and always kinda frustrating: “Both. You should get it all done and know what was happening while you were doing it.”

That’s the most important lesson DBC taught me: that it’s not enough to stack dusty artifacts of Done Things in the corner, and it’s also not enough to avoid letting Things get Done by languishing in ego-boosting rabbit holes.

Sometimes, when a Thing is exhausting and you know it’ll be over at some point anyway, you just want to shut off and let the thing end and take what comes, because it’s easier than trying anymore.

And sometimes, you enjoy a Thing-In-Progress so much you don’t want the fun to end and laser in on the process of the work, ignoring the scary truth that someday there will be another Thing and it will need to replace this one, no matter how much you’d put into it.

Balancing between those extremes is hard even with the little stuff, and the big panicky stuff is almost guaranteed to throw it off.

And as I careen between my intrinsic desires to Do Things and my externally imposed needs to get Done with Things, I am soothed by the realization that I am alive right now, and this life is happening whether I’m here with it or not, and I can choose to dig in and engage in this moment, even if I’m scared or self-conscious.

And I need that soothe sometimes, because the proud and cowardly parts of my brain have a permanent death impulse, a nasty little internal desire to get Done with Things, no matter how momentous or trivial, so the rest of my brain doesn’t need to engage with the raw emotion that Doing often requires.

You know what? The song says it better. Lyrics below the folk.


You can open your mind
And carry hope for a time

But the shiver inside
It says just survive, just get out alive

You focus your eyes
And hold your head high

But nothing is fine
Til you get out alive, so get out alive

What if you saw through the pain

What if you thought it could change

What if you meant to be strong
Meant to stay calm
Meant to hold on
And then it was gone

You ain’t got the time
To wait out the fight

So maybe it’s fine
If you wither and hide, til you get out alive

Your shivering side
Your prison of pride

It might treat you kind
If you get out alive, so get out alive

Cause what if you saw through the pain

And what if you thought you could change

What if you meant to be strong
Meant to stay calm
Meant to hold on
Went for so long
And then it was gone

You could dig out of your dig down if you hit ground and you give up

Oh but what if you miss digging down

Cuz maybe living’s when you dig in to your digging til you dig up

What your digging was all about

Open your mind
To the end of the line

There’s no better time
To dig-deep and try, to live out a life

Cause no one survives
We live til we die

And the living provides
What you get out of life, so live out a life

Just live out your life
And live while alive
You can’t get out alive


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