Today’s blog is about the existential importance of living in the present moment. Today is valuable because it is fragile, because it is fleeting, and because our interpretation of these concepts shapes who we are.
Statistically speaking, it was very unlikely that you or I would even come to exist in the first place. For a start, certain astronomical events had to occur in the perfect way for our planet to have the capacity to support life; since then, our respective ancestors had to evolve and survive throughout the history of mammals and the human species. In addition, without getting too graphic, I would extend this as far as to claim that our existence relied on which particular cells of our parents combined to become the people who are you and I. What insignificant odds led to my being here, writing this article, or yours being where you are, reading these words?
We Still Exist.
Over the course of our lives ever since birth, we have continued to exist until today. I’m sure you have known people, as I have, who are no longer with us. They are finished with Earth forever, never to return, and will never have the opportunity to see the sun rise tomorrow morning. Their circumstances from leaving our world may have been as unexpected as having been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some day, that will be each of us: it could happen after many fulfilling decades, or it could happen on my way home from work, or in the middle of the night while your family is sleeping. Once our next-of-kin gets that phone call, it’s too late. Life is fragile.
Life is also fleeting. Time, it’s been said, is “our most valuable nonrenewable resource” (Albert-László Barabás), which means that once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Just as you have only one life to live, you have only one chance to live any given day, hour, or minute. There are no do-overs; after you wake up tomorrow morning, you can never return back to the day that is today. After the clock strikes 12:00, you can never return back to 11:59.
Knowing that we get only one shot at each moment within our brief lives, would it not be a waste of our time to feel less than awe at our own existence? Would it not be a waste of our time to spend even an hour in an unnecessarily negative mental space? Instead of taking for granted our most valuable gift, it is important for us to do and feel those things which are important to us now, because once life is over, which could come unannounced at any time, it will be too late.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead,
where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”
Don't Take Life for Granted!
Knowing this, and after considering it fully, there is one more step to take in order to meet Positivity (it’s all pretty depressing so far, I must admit.) While this understanding and acknowledgment of the impermanence of life is an essential prerequisite, happiness, in practicality, comes instead from conquering the fear of death by focusing on the present moment. Between now and when we die, there is a certain amount of time, during which the possibilities of how we chose to live are endless. We each have all day every day for however many years to love ourselves and eachother, to prioritize, work hard, acquire knowledge and wisdom, and become the best version of ourselves that we can.
Even in hardships, if you approach every challenge as a learning experience, you face opportunities for growth:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance
finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Equipped with a positive outlook on our lives, no matter the circumstance, we can step away from apathy, past the fear of death, and into the hope for tomorrow.
“[Ecclesiastes] may be right for all eternity, but we Men-Alive are right for Now.
And it is for Now, and for us the living, that we must speak … With the courage of the
truth within us, we shall meet the enemy as they come to us … And if, once having
conquered them, new enemies approach, we shall meet them from that point, and
from there proceed.”
(“You Can’t Go Home Again” by Thomas Wolfe)