Sometimes it’s a mind clarifier to point out the inaccuracies in your own life – that blend of irony and confusion that makes up your unique mindset. Bottom line: I’m all confused. You probably are too. Let’s talk amongst ourselves… There's a phrase I often hear from cowabunga dudes or girls that fill out their customs forms with pink glitter pens...
Live each day as if it's your last.
What a steaming load. I don't like this mindset, nor do I believe it's all that helpful. The premise is somewhat nice, but imagine if people actually took this phrase to heart.
It's Not All About The Thrills
Most people, given unlimited possibilities and no monetary concerns, would live out one ambitious day after the other, leaving monotonous tasks or building block actions to rot in the corner of their consciousness. Believe me, living like that is thrilling but exhausting (cough, cough). Though I do believe you should enjoy your life, very few people would allow themselves the comfort of knowing what they are doing is good enough in the grand scale of possibilities.
Having this motto tattooed to your cubicle wall seems like a dark, English joke of depressing proportions, and writing the same thing, albeit in Chinese characters, across your waistline seems about as ironic as writing, "I know how to live better than you do."
Instead I think there needs to be a rewording of this overspoken - and therefore somewhat redundant - phrase:
Behave as though you'll never get another chance to make things right. Appreciate what wonders enwrap your life today, and find the present peace that can allow contentment to reign supreme in your mind.
I don't think I live day by day, nor do I feel I live today to the fullest. I guess I do at times, but it's not a rule. If given the opportunity to do something extreme, 75% of the time I do it. But if lying in bed reading a great book and preparing a nice salad for dinner sounds better than flinging myself off a bridge head first or eating bat brains, I won't opt for the seldom done thing just because it's the ever-stated "once-in-a-lifetime experience."
There is incredible beauty in a calm existence - where precious actions of the day have a poetry of their own. We all will stare at the old hands of a Mexican hombre, chopping green pepper and limes, and call it a lovely, timeless sight of a man exercising his family's culinary secrets. If we do something comforting and truthful to ourselves, I feel we are honoring our own lifestyle by saying, "The majority of my pleasures are sweet and understated…I live a good life."
Instead of thinking "live for today," I'd rather think, "live for these next few months." Planning for more than that allows time to slip by unnoticed, and considering only the next few days doesn't give ample time for planning that which makes you tick.
The Nosedive Muse
Though I don't like this "live-today-because-tomorrow-may-not-come" saying, I have to admit that the fuel driving me on these journeys isn't much different. These days, I've grown a little fearful of planes and turbulence and often tell myself, while flying through the sky, "This bad boy could go down in flames...would I be happy with my life if that happened?"
I imagine that moment of realization as the nosedive commences; what would be going through my head? "I never took a chance on that dream experience. Why didn't I ever give that one thing a try? I never did that...or that!" It's a morbid thought, but it somehow taps into a priority list in my brain I'm not always aware of. I can barely pick a destination I'd most like to visit next, because I want to visit them all, but there's something inside me that cares more for one place or thing than another. The nosedive evokes that muse.
This is why I try the trips where the odds are working against me. This is why I don't settle down and get an apartment and a job and a boyfriend the way my family would like me to. This is why I went to Fiji on my own dollar to try and start something that very likely wouldn't work out.
Check My Expiration Date
The problems I face with my mentality are ones of support, or a lack thereof, and time, or my conflicting views of it.
On November 1st, 2009, I looked at my winter and thought, "I have enough money to have an amazing experience abroad, though I have to be extremely frugal. Where should I go, and what would be the best usage of my time?" I felt this was a completely understandable dilemma. Heck, who wants to be here for the brunt of a Midwestern winter anyway? And instead of plowing into the suffering job market looking for something that doesn't make me nauseous, I wanted to go and do something that connected with me profoundly. Makes perfect sense, no? Not if people feel more comfortable with convention and therefore feel less comfortable with your tendency to poo-poo it. It's not tolerance that backs you up; it's support.
I hate when people say, "Time flies!" No. Time is always the same, and it's just an awareness of it that makes this speedy perception. I plan on living my 20s to the fullest, not in a way that negates responsibility but embraces alternative views of convention to make sense to the individual. I want to try many different paths because geography doesn't have to limit my spectrum. Therefore, I'm out and about, seizing those opportunities that scream out to me in those nosedive musings. And though I know by the time I'm 30, I'll say, "Whoa, I'm getting old, and I'm nowhere near procreating," I will at least be happy with the chances I took up to that point.
Living life to the fullest means having an awareness that you're merely mortal, but as the polarity of my soul drags me toward both adventure and stationary living, I've adopted the idea that I've got plenty of time ahead of me to do everything I want to do. And since that's quite a long bucket list, I need time to space it all out. Here's hoping the nosedive is never real, until maybe my 100th birthday.
Lots of thoughts...would anyone like to add to this conversation? What do you think about the phrase "Live each day as if it's your last"? And how does your expiration date influence your choices in life?