One Steamy Night In Bangkok and A Major Wake Up Call

A conversation in Phuket followed by one night in Bangkok have left my heart beating faster and butterflies in my stomach. I am now questioning the way I lead my life. I bet it gets you thinking too, and perhaps will leave you as unsettled as I am right now. Here’s why.

I am not sure this story will flow. It’s seriously eating away at me. And I hope- will eat away at you. Something good has to come out of it. Please.

Last week in Bangkok I was reminded of the death there two decades ago in a coup incident of Australian war photographer, Neil Davis. He’d led an amazing life, and died a tragic, needlessly premature death.  But here’s the point. I was reminded of how Davis described his approach to life: it’s a magical philosophy:

“One crowded hour of life is worth more than an eternity without a name.”

This reminder came a day after an intriguing conversation in Phuket.

“I don’t think I will live a long life,” my colleague told me. “So I have decided to take risk, to do what I want and to do it without regret.” Intoxicating. Brave. Imagine being able to genuinely live that way. Imagine the possibilities.

And then the Bangkok reminder of the Davis ‘crowded hour.’ The result? I have felt really flat ever since- stuck in FOMO:  Fear of Missing Out. It’s really bugging me.

Here’s one young person who has made a decision to go for it- taking risk, doing what they want, living the moment, no regrets.  And then Neil Davis- who lived a genuinely ‘crowded hour’, filled with excitement, adventure, inquisitiveness, boldness. Resisting the normal.

And then there’s me. Me.

Living a fortunate life for sure, filled with opportunity, challenge, affirmation, learning, love. I’m grateful for it, and don’t take it for granted.

But bloody hell- it is (100% my own choice and doing) a conservative, predictable, risk adverse, conformist, regimented, and restricted life, in so many ways. It’s underpinned by fear, living up to expectations (largely my own), of protecting ‘reputation’ and delivering on obligation and responsibility (that’s fair enough).  And – to reiterate- it’s all my own doing. I choose it. No-one forces me down this path. I am encouraged to do some of it differently. Often. But I don’t.

I challenged Possums readers once to “Do something every day that scares you.” I am all talk, no action. I know for sure that I have failed 100% on that challenge. I live a timid life.

So- my flatness is my realization that I probably don’t have the courage to reboot somehow- to make sure the next phase is absolutely, without a question, no doubt about it ‘one crowded hour’, where I take risk, push myself out there, do it differently, live for the moment, get uncomfortable, embrace fear, follow my heart and do it while having no regrets (and 50 other clichés I could think of…you get the message though I hope).

What a bummer. I keep thinking of the last words of the incredible yet flawed giant Cecil Rhodes: “So little done, so much to do.” I know I am going to regret not following a different script…. A script that takes me to a genuinely ‘crowded hour.’

My comfort is the word I used a few moments ago…… ’probably’…… “I probably don’t have the courage…..”. In ‘probably‘ there is hope.

Andrew Denton, speaking at our leadership dinner three weeks ago, quoted Albert Schweitzer, missionary, philosopher, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize who said: “The tragedy of a man is what dies inside himself while he still lives.” How frightening is that?


I MUST take action. I MUST. I WILL!!!

How about you? Are you leading a life that you can describe as ‘a crowded hour’- filled with ingredients that regularly tell you that you are alive? If yes, how do you know and how do you do it?


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28 Responses to One Steamy Night In Bangkok and A Major Wake Up Call

  1. pete shmigel March 6, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    Your comment that it’s your choice is the one that most resonates with me. I sometimes wonder if the greatest excitement, the greatest wonder, the greatest contribution that I can make is to simply choose to embrace the simple moments.

    • Chris Savage March 6, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      So true Peter..

  2. Richard March 6, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Chris, please read Seth Godin’s new book The Icarus Deception.
    Richard 🙂

    • Chris Savage March 6, 2013 at 10:51 am #

      Will do Richard!

  3. Kelly March 6, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    I LOVE Wrestling Possums! You always manage to evoke so many emotions in me…excitement, anger, sadness and happiness. Today I feel courageous. I have the courage to try new things, jump in the deep end, set sail!

    My favourite quote of all time speaks to today’s post…

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” Mark Twain.

    I think I have the courage to do just that…well at least I’m working on it.

    • Chris Savage March 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      Thanks Kelly. Appreciate it! And love the quote! Chris

  4. Mark March 6, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    I too recently came to a similar realisation. Granted I am still ‘young,’ I am worried that I have already missed out on so much by following the road taken.
    If you haven’t read the book ‘the 4 hour work week’ I strongly suggest you give it a read. Whilst it is not practical for everyone, nor does it go without its criticism, I strongly believe that everyone can take something from it. Check it out!

    • Chris Savage March 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      Mark- thank you. I will read it for sure. Chris

  5. Sing Ling March 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Oops…perhaps don’t publish my previous comment…it wasn’t meant for public 🙂

    • Chris Savage March 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      Sing- thanks so much for this insight and sharing. Really valuable. And appreciated. Chris (and yr previous comment wasn’t published as requested)

  6. Rhylla March 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Thank you for another great post Chris. For stirring up the possum and challenging us all to think about the stuff that matters – if only for a few minutes in a crowded day.

    I lived a very sensible, moderately successful and risk-averse life for years and after realising how depressed it was making me I finally shook things up. I took a new job, moved to a mountain top, fell in love and now my life has changed forever.

    I am typing this from a heli-ski lodge in Alaska. My partner is up the valley somewhere making a stunning film of snowboarders carving lines high in the Chugach mountains, I watched a mother sea otter duck-dive with her baby just outside a few moments ago and am working on our own business online while we explore this magical part of the world.

    I never could have dreamed this scenario up for myself five years ago. But it’s amazing what opens up once you make a change.

    You don’t have to jump out of a plane. Or tell you boss to shove it. Or get a tattoo. You can. But small things can start change rolling too. Asking questions. Searching out what inspires you. And then doing it. Even if it’s not sensible. Especially if it’s not sensible.

    Good luck everyone. It’s worth it.

    • Chris Savage March 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Rhylla – thank you. Amazing story. Love the ‘small steps’ angle. Chris

  7. Aryeh Sternberg March 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    In response to this p[ost, I’d like to mention again the ‘Two Step Process” from my book Win For Life:

    Step 1: See it.

    Step 2: Do it.

    Too often we consciously or unconsciously avert our eyes to opportunities that surround us. By identifying our fears, and taking a moment to look around and see what might be around us, we can find new exciting ways to enliven our tedious lives.

    Next, as one of my friends recently told me, “Man up!”, which means stop being a wimp and running from your fears and take the proverbial step off the cliff. If Indiana Jones can do it, why can’t we? Okay, not a fair comparison, but we still should consider taking that second step and like Nike says Just Do It.

    We can claim to say we’re going to make changes in our lives, but until you can See the opportunities then take action and Do them consistently, you may find yourself stuck wondering why life is passing you by.

    • Chris Savage March 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

      Thanks Aryeh- I like the ‘man up’ notion!

  8. Brad March 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Quit your job. If it’s not scaring you daily, it’s not challenging you either and there’s no growth. Go work on that idea that’s been always in the back of your mind that you’ve been too scared to make happen. What are you afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen? For me, absolute worst case is that I get another agency position on a good salary.

    I realised a risk-averse, traditionally successful ‘normal life’ scares the shit out of me more than trying.

    Also, I second the recommendation of reading the ‘4 Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss. Great perspective.

    • Chris Savage March 7, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks Brad. Will do!

  9. Tony Spencer-Smith March 6, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Chris, you’ve once again thrown a hand grenade into our tidy lives, and proved yourself to be one of the few really human voices in the corporate world! The scariest thing in your piece was the Schweitzer quote – if we let the most important things die in us, we are little better than zombies.

    • Chris Savage March 7, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks Tony- appreciated! Chris

  10. Craig Charnock March 6, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    Fabulous post!

    For any men looking to be challenged, guided and supported in stepping into leading their lives consciously, courageously, compassionately, I highly recommend the Mankind Project.

    Whatever one’s perceptions or judgements, the sincerity, integrity and authenticity of men in the project is humbling and inspiring, men from all walks of life and stretching across cultures and continents.

    It has added so much to my life and when I see the shifts men go through and have their loved ones share the effects, it gives me huge hope for humanity, but especially for men.

    I have seen the mature masculine energy being accessed and lived by so many men, who just needed some guidance and the support of their ‘brothers’ and ‘grandfathers’. This is one of the multi-cultural, multi-religious (i.e. all welcome) solutions we have for a world that is losing its ‘initiations’, losing its ‘culture’, at least one that supports men to become men, in touch with their feelings, connected to a mission in life and living as warriors, magicians, lovers, kings!

    Thanks for reading this! Chris, take a look!!!

    • Chris Savage March 7, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks Craig. I know The Mankind Project has meant a lot to you. Chris

  11. Fiona March 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    I am about to embark on one of the riskiest choices of my life… to move to New York… on my own. To leave a good job that I love, to leave friends and family that I adore and to leave the ‘safety’ of my hometown.

    I’m doing it now even though times are tough in the States because if I don’t, I’ll regret it. Sometimes you have to create your own opportunities if they are not immediately available.

    Fearlessness doesn’t come naturally to me. But I realise that if I want to achieve anything, I have to push myself.

    Pushing myself continually outside of my comfort zone is how I intend to live my ‘one crowded hour’.

    • Chris Savage March 7, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Good luck Fiona!

  12. Stella March 7, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    Am loving Wrestling Possums lately, but this post is smelling a tad like “mid-life crisis”.

    You’re running a company, travelling, inspiring people and raising a family – clearly you don’t need to set up a camera in front of a tank to be in the firing line! You’re in the front line every day through the numerous touch-points and impact you make on those around you (do you even have an uncrowded hour?? Do any of us??)!

    Like Rhylla I had a stage of my life where I had to make a drastic change, and as a result, many other great experiences followed and the roller coaster hasn’t stopped! But I have realised that FOMO can limit the ability to recognise the quality of what’s in our lives versus the quantity of packing it all in because we think the grass is greener!

    Sure do stuff that may be a little out of your comfort zone/the norm/left field or whatever other cliche you want to use, but make sure the people who you love and respect are part of it else you’ll just feel even flatter after the buzz has gone. Live a big big life, but make sure that those people who care about you are there to remember it after you’re gone (to write up that Wikipedia bio!)

    And maybe before you get really old and wheelchair bound, you do something that scares you. Jump out of a plane, go bungee jumping, canoe the Amazon or play dorky old songs and sing really loudly on your balcony early on a Sunday morning (now that would be a crowded hour!)!

    • Chris Savage March 7, 2013 at 11:24 am #

      Thanks Stella, as always. Fair enough. Is there a difference between a ‘busy hour’ and a ‘crowded hour’? I know my life is action packed, but is it ‘living’ to the full. That’s the question i am pondering. Mid life crisis perhaps, though if this is mid life then i get to live to 104!

  13. Aleisha March 7, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Unbelievably I was driving to work this morning thinking I felt like a bird with its wings tied to its body. I was driving past the types of house I would love to live in and thinking the same thoughts as usual ” One day maybe”, but knowing it wont be. thinking my life will have one straight path instead of the many meandering paths I see in my head.

    It is so much easier said to live the life you dream than to ACTUALLY do it. I would love to follow my dreams and travel and follow my dream job, despite the fact that it would probably make just enough money to buy groceries. But in reality that life is idealistic and somewhat selfish.

    Don’t get me wrong I totally agree with this blog and I WANT to live this “one crowded hour” life. But I think most of the human race does too and sometimes its not going to be a life of fulfillment in respect to our vision of what we see our life becoming. If I think of the way more than half the world is living their lives, with no choices and no options, my wings are out stretched and I am soaring DESPITE not following my dreams and achieving that fulfillment you talk of.

    Perhaps Neil Davis had a dream that went by unfulfilled too. Our thoughts are constantly evolving as are our lives.

    I read once a lesson a Yoga master told: “A student came to the Yoga master after the first week of classes and said: I’m so sore I can hardly walk and everything is hurting. The Yoga master simply said: It will pass. A week later the same student came up to the Yoga master and said: You were right, I feel fantastic, everything feels amazing. The Yoga master simply said: It will pass.

    Thanks again for a thought provoking blog Chris

  14. Olga March 18, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    Personally I feel I always try to avoid or minimize risk in my life. One wise man told me once: ‘trying to protect myself I always put some hay where I thought I could fall. Now looking back I see only hay everywhere but I’ve never once fell’, sometimes I think that will end up like this too. But on the other hand I believe we can’t be objective when evaluating our own lives. If we can’t dance, play piano or whatever we think it’s just magic, but when we start reading notes we don’t believe we become magicians. Whose life is really full and can be described as ‘a crowded hour’? Life of some skydiver?- but what if he is dreaming of being politician? Politician is dreaming about changing his last name and moving to Goa for 3 years. That one who is carelessly living in Goa can’t find internal forces and will to return to ‘stable’ life, pay tax, get married… I’m exaggerating of course but still believe in this idea. The more we know or the more we do just make us more and more demanding, so it’s just normal (from my pov) not to be satisfied, it proves we’re moving in some direction but not sitting in safe and warm swamp. If one tells me ‘oh, yes, I’m living full life I’m taking 100% of it’ I will put a big bold X on him. Think we should keep moving forward, be kind with ourselves and get used to the fact the ‘life as a crowded hour’ concept gives us some vector only, the final point is impossible to reach.

    • Chris Savage March 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks Olga- I love the ‘hay’ story. My life is littered with hay and I reckon I have also never taken big enough risk to use it. But I do accept your view.. it’s normal not to be satisfied but also accepting of ourselves. I just hope I never get too satisfied and stop wondering about “what if….?”

  15. Mark S April 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Choice is a luxury. A well fed man with assets and options who chooses to spend his life getting fat in the office has squandered that luxury.

    But choice is a double-edged sword. You have to be strong to use it. If you’re not strong enough, you’ll be paralysed by its weight, unable to move, let alone use it to fight.

    If you’re honest with yourself, you are spoiled by choice. Learn to live with less – power and possessions – and you’ll see a path to liberation. Try it.

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