Chasing Peak Experiences

You want to feel intensely; connect deeply; leave this life utterly spent. You want a movie-worthy life, a sweeping, grand narrative that destroys everything in its path.

Experience is your drug and the addiction has taken hold. Every day that passes uneventfully pains you. A sense of urgency sets in; the nagging frustration that something more beautiful is happening somewhere else. Routine is your enemy. You crave novelty; the sequence of serendipitous events that only fate can bring. The fight, the adventure, the struggle – anything but the feeling of living the same day over and over again.

Without a steady drip of fresh experiences you feel hollow, stagnant. Always searching for the next high, always reaching for something just beyond your grasp. You start to wonder if you’re the only one that feels this way, on a never-ending quest to the razor’s edge of life, only to have it slip through your fingers once you arrive. Must you always be so eternally dissatisfied?

Special moments are immortalised in your mind, reaching mythical proportions, setting the bar for future experiences higher and higher. You wonder how long you can go on like this and what will happen when the intensity of your experiences can escalate no further. You wonder if you’re broken, or the defective product of a society that tells us we can have everything. Or have you just fried your batteries too many times, losing your perspective in an excess of serotonin and overly romantic expectations?

Every time the peak experience switch flicks on, you feel as if waking from a dream, like the wait is over and real life has begun. The warm bath of happy chemicals in the days that follow pacifies you for now, comforting you with the belief that it’s still out there. But once the afterglow has fizzled out, you’re left with the same existential uneasiness, the same insatiable hunger. The normalcy of the shortening days begins to frighten you. Again the craving sets in and the anxiety of where you’ll find the next fix begins to gnaw at your sanity.

It wasn’t always like this. Your heart and mind weren’t always so discriminate. But somewhere along the way you stumbled across a hidden door, a door which never entirely shut. Blinded by the beauty of this world, you returned vowing to find your way back. Tapping into this higher frequency and breathing the intoxicating air of its alien atmosphere has become your reason for being.

You found yourself crossing the threshold more and more, rarely looking back to ground yourself or question how many times the door could be opened. As the moments of lucidity began to thicken, your perception sharpened to detect even subtle changes in consciousness and your reality began to shift. Smaller moments started to happen as your vision expanded to see more color in everyday things.

You fought your way to new levels of perception, new heights of bliss and wonder. Always forging on to something brighter, something purer. You climb and climb until you run out of road. Yet your heart is still desperately searching.

The voice of limitless possibilities whispers in your ear:

Where’s the life you dreamed of?

The fleeting nature of your youth haunts you as the promise of a boundless horizon reveals itself to be a cruel illusion. Each path you pursue necessarily entails the closing off of another, and you will have to choose. The dawning realisation that there will be some experiences you’ll never have, some paths you’ll never have the chance to explore is too much to bear. Regret is what you fear above all else, as the weight of opportunities lost echo on.

Amidst the waiting, the anticipation and the frustration, something crystallizes through the fog. In chasing the elusive peaks you’ve created a dissonance between your experience and the raw throb of life itself – the present moment.

The inherent ebb and flow of life is necessary, without the valleys and plateaus there can be no peaks. Sometimes you’ll be blinded by the aching, overwhelming beauty of the sun and other times you’ll walk calmly through dappled sunlight. But with no less rapture.

The darkness of the night seems to stretch on forever, but the dawn always comes.

Olivia White

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