Rachel Maddow has it right.
I’ve always hated the idea, personified in Kris Allen’s “Live Like We’re Dying” and Jordan Sparks’ “Tattoo”, that we must always live like every day is our last. These sentiments, these platitudes, are meant to goad us into action, to live bravely, to do risky things like go for that opportunity, to proclaim our love, those moments that we’re scared of that form the climax of the plot in any cheesy, predictable story.
We should absolutely not live every moment as if we’re dying. First, we simply can’t. There are moments in life where we have to do boring things—run errands, go to the bathroom, do homework, clean. These are not earth-shattering moments, and while they might lead us to pursue our dream, they are the necessary drudgework that is part of life. We can’t pretend these moments don’t exist, or consistently infuse them with meaning. We feel sick, we want to sleep in, we spend too much time online or on video games. Not every moment is meant for meaning; it is everything added together that becomes something more. Two, if we tried to live every moment as if it was life or death, we’d be in a constant state of anxiety and heightened emotions, and a person can’t live like that. Necessary things, like sleep and food, would get pushed out, because we don’t have time for petty things if we are dying!In that mindset, everything is short term; there are no considerations for consequences. Yeah, that opportunity might be amazing, but is it worth it after tomorrow? After next year? Is it harmful? Proclaiming your love is always viewed as this thing that, while scary, will always work out…but what if it doesn’t? What if everything goes to pot, and you were better off not doing it? But it doesn't matter, because you have to live every second like it's your last one!
There’s an episode of House where Wilson, after telling a patient that he only a few months to live, realizes that his disease is in remission and he will be fine. The patient is angry and wants to sue Wilson—the expectation that he was dying made his life fun for the short-term, and he was showered with parties and accolades. Now he has nothing to live for. He had lived for the present, and now that it was extended, there was nothing left. If we lived every day like we were dying, we would also feel this way. We told all our loved ones how we felt (nauseatingly), we took our risks, we said FU when it didn’t work out...and eventually we’ll be left with a shell of who we are, since we didn’t listen to anyone and didn’t prepare for the consequences.
So for the love of God, don’t tell me to live my life to the fullest, how I need to constantly run on all cylinders, to make sure that every moment counts. Because not every moment does, and not every moment can.
I’m too busy just trying to get by.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Rachel Maddow has it right.