Why do we like pushing ourselves to the limit?
If we crave adventure, why is the more dangerous the better?
If we like horror, why is the scarier the better?
If, if, if, if.
Why is excess a good thing?
I know that our first impulse, our defensive conscious minds, our neo cortex, would jump out and indignantly deny that accusation. Who ever said excess is a good thing?! How dare you include us in what is apparently the desires of a tired disturbed mind in the late hours after midnight?!
Well, if you really think that we, collectively, humans and inhabitants of the modern world, do not crave excess, of everything, then close this page and move on.
However, if you are still reading, then first allow me to applaud you for having the courage to confront yourself with me. Come stand by my side, and let's look ourselves in the mirror.
As I write these sentences I realize that this may be too big a topic to tackle in one post. I am actively considering saving this post and using it later as a starter for a bigger essay. I even admit right now that these past few sentences are like fillers so I can get a chance to think of what I'm going to do with this topic. But fear not, I shall not abandon you my courageous reader who has come this far.
I've been moved to write this piece by a feeling I have had over the past few weeks of wanting to do more of anything just to push myself to a limit. I also realize now that when people read this, those who know me might start getting some wrong ideas about what I was pushing myself to do. To those I say, first, "Hi, how are you?" and second, do not worry, I still have the same defensive conscious mind and neo cortex that conforms to society and prevents me from following my baser instincts. At least stops me from anything deemed by society to be too stupid. But hey, you've read this far, so you probably know what I am talking about. So don't judge me. Just continue reading and reflect.
The urge I have been having is to push my limits. Stay up as late as I can, work out as hard as I can, continuously read for as long as I can. Reading back, I can see that my limits are pretty nerdy, but you get the point.
People inflict pain on themselves, do drugs, drink alcohol, gamble, all within limits. Until they go over the limits.
I can pop open another window on this computer and search for "different ways people push their limits", but I won't do that because a) this isn't about presenting well-researched facts, if you call using Google research. b) I would come up with too many examples to include here, and c) you, my target audience, probably already know what I'm talking about.
We all want to do something out of and over the ordinary, the ordinary being what we've been used to all our lives and what is considered within normal limits by society. I notice how many times I have used the word "Society". Note to self: Gotta check that out. We all want to see how far we could go. Is it only a matter of testing ourselves or does it give us some gratification? From my nerdy urges, I'd say there's gratification we seek.
Another reason I believe that pushing the limits makes us feel good, is how much we like to watch bad guys on screen. If what we see on the movies is shown to us on the evening news, we cringe, we feel sick, pray that the guy/girl get what they deserve. I agree with that, we are not animals, and we need maintain our civility to survive, progress and not get swept away by chaos. But that's the thing, all the movies and TV shows show us that when push comes to shove and the apocalypse comes (floods, fire, nuclear, zombies or otherwise), Man will be the most dangerous thing out there. I mean just watch The Walking Dead.
The same things that we see on the news and condemn, are the things we pay money to see in the movies. We watch with our eyes fixed on the screen and although our neo cortex tells us to feel happy that the bad guy got what he deserved in the end, between point A at the beginning of the movie and point B where the guy/gal goes to jail/dies there's a whole lot of dead bodies, blood, explosions, torture, tricks, cheating, stealing, drug dealing, drug using and a whole spectrum of "wrong" things that we pay and sit to see. And enjoy.
I mean, millions of people have tuned in to watch The Sopranos every week for years, and that's just one example because it's an example I like. We watch to see what's going to happen, will Tony Soprano (or any other villain of your choice) receive their Karmic justice? But let's admit it, we still liked Tony Soprano, he was entertaining, he was cool. We liked Don Corleone and his son Michael. And yes, I like Mafia stories. We still liked Tony Montana, Walter White, Colonel Hans Landa and Jules Winnfield.
In the end, I don't have an answer as to why we like excess? Why do we like to push ourselves? And why do we like the fictional characters who can do it and look cool? I just know we do. I know that deep down we are animals operating on instinct and that if our neo cortex, our conscious minds, our societal rules fall apart or get put on hold for a moment, it will be a moment where we will run free to see how far our limits go. And it won't be pretty.
Or is it just me?