“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard
Anyone who is on Pinterest or Tumblr or any form of social media has surely seen some sort of inspirational quote about living life like it’s your last day.
You get the picture. Now, if you take that literally, life might get a little complicated… and really expensive. Let me tell you, if I lived every day like it was my last, I would not have a real job. I’d be out backpacking through Europe, road-tripping across America, going on whale watches, scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, etc… If I could afford it, I’d be out there doing all of that in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, even I have to admit that money is necessary for all of that. I hate the concept of money. I think it corrupts everything good and pure about the world, but there comes a point when even the loftiest of dreamers have to accept that some realities exist. I hate it, but I accept it.
Instead of griping about things I can’t change, however, I try to set goals so that even if I can’t change reality, I can at least influence it a little. I can change my reality. The quote about life being understood backwards, but being lived forwards really struck me as interesting. It’s true, we have to move forward. We have to learn. We have to experience. It’s impossible to fast forward and look back to know which choices are the ones we should and shouldn’t make. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t try to figure it out.
I think one of the most amazing and beautiful things about being human is the capacity to look beyond ourselves. Whether or not most people take advantage of this ability is another matter entirely. The point is, we are aware of things and people and ideas and creatures other than our own beings. We have the ability to imagine and to see life not only as it is, but how it could be. Life has so much potential, but I don’t think a lot of people realize that.
Personally, I’ve always sort of “lived in the future.” Perhaps that’s not a good thing, as none of us are guaranteed a future, but I usually try to think at least two steps ahead. How are my decisions today going to affect the life I want to live down the line? There are reasons I elect to live the way that I do, with very few strings attached, and that’s because I’m constantly thinking about the life I want to be living in five, ten, twenty years. I’ve even gone so far as to imagine my death bed. When I lie there, in my final moments reflecting on my life, what will I be thinking? What are the things I will regret not doing? This is how I am attempting to “live life backwards.” I want to take all of those things that I will regret not doing and do them. After all, at the end of the day, we’re all going to meet the same fate. Nothing that I do in this life can prevent death, so I might as well take this one chance I get to live and live it the way I want. Because really, what actually matters other than the people we love and trying to leave the world a better place than we found it? Not a whole lot.