Written by Evan Bailyn on 06/20 at 11:43 AM
“Our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.” We know nothing of what happened before our birth, and we certainly know nothing of what will happen after we die. Movies, slide shows, and accounts of what life was like in other times are all fascinating to contemplate, but we cannot ever truly know what it is like to exist outside of our lifespan. The only period of time over which we have any influence is our own, and that is why life should be enjoyed as heartily as possible.
Most people, in some form or another, can appreciate the transience of life. That is why expressions like “you only live once” exist. However, many of the same people that maintain a free-spirited philosophy when they are young consent to adult civility when they are older as if it were a necessary next stage of life. “When we were kids, we had some crazy times” says the retired party person, now forty and unenthusiastic about his career and life.
There are two related mistakes in this type of thinking. The first is not understanding what living in the present means, and the second is accepting that it has to end.
Living in the present means appreciating your life. It is often strictly interpreted as simply “having fun.” Yet fun is only one aspect of appreciating life; things like enjoying books, building friendships, and falling in love - though not strictly classified as “fun” - are still wonderful ways to appreciate life. There are countless other activities that would gladden the nostalgic adult reflecting on his younger years.
Of all of the ways people enjoy their lives, none are looked back on as fondly as those that took place before the age of eleven or twelve years old. This is because before that age, the veil of security that protects children, otherwise known as the “innocence of childhood,” still existed. These early, protected years of childhood are, to...