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Do you know what it means to live in the light? No? I must admit that I really didn’t either, until recently. 

Oh sure, everyone knows about “the straight and narrow,” repentance, rebirth and all that. But living in the light? What does that really mean?

Then there’s the flip side. What does it mean to live in the dark? Does it mean that you are clueless? That you are mostly oblivious to what is going on around you? No, not entirely. But yes, to some degree, you are oblivious or perhaps more accurately, blinded or worse, uninformed.

Then again, as you might suspect, reality is not dark or light or black or white. If there is a dominant color in our state of existence, it might actually be described as being mostly gray — not a depressing gray but simply a state of in between.

There are a number of ways of living in the light and the primary one is spiritual. 

Living as close as you can to God, the universe, the creator or whatever else you might prefer to call it is living close to the ultimate light, simply because it is the creator of that light.

When you live close to that light, you suddenly become aware of what is lurking in dark corners, and you are quickly motivated to clear out anything in your life that you find less than appealing or less than beneficial, like certain fears and attitudes.

It’s a little like when they suddenly turn on the lights in a bar at closing time and instruct you to make your way toward the exit. It’s then that you realize what a dive the place is and wonder if you should have actually drunk from the glass you suddenly wish you’d previously inspected.

Quite frankly, you should strive for the light in all areas of your life. In many ways, striving for the light is all about wanting to continuously learn, stay abreast, explore and discover meaning.

So much of the time we strive to reach a state in life where we can “settle in" — somewhat like a football team that has just won a championship. Suddenly they feel as though they’ve reached a certain level, they’ve figured it out and they think that gives them the opportunity to settle into a certain groove. Of course, that’s exactly when they begin to lose.

Actually, there is no such thing as “settling in.” In this life of ours, we never actually “arrive.” We either continue to strive, learn and improve or we fall backward. You see, gravity pulls at every part of us and our lives. You’re either moving up or you are falling down. Life has built no roads upon which you can simply cruise.

Fortunately, we are designed to face challenges head-on. We like a good challenge. And most often it is a momentary downturn that launches us toward previously undreamed of levels of achievement, love, peace and satisfaction. It is also these downturns that make us concentrate more on helping others.

Because, you see, without pressure, there is no diamond. 

Kevin Holten is the president of the North Dakota Cowboy Association and executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.