I just read an interview with Dr. Meg Jay about why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them. As a twenty-something that is already well on my way to the big 3-0, I was challenged and encouraged by the insights that she shared. To summarise what I took from the read I turn to something that Seneca said, “Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” My life is now, in every passing moment, and seeing each day as as precious a gift – as a life in its entirety – fosters a vision for the future while fully exhausting the possibilities of the present. As William James said, “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.”
Henry David Thoreau implores individuals to go confidently in the direction of their dreams, to live the lives they have imagined. If we choose to take courage and do this we should also keep in mind that, as George Bernard Shaw rightly points out, a life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. Havelock Ellis puts it beautifully: the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on (and cultivating the wisdom that graces us to know which we should opt for when).
An old faithful mantra of mine is one I borrow from Eric Butterworth: “Don’t go through life, grow through life.” Growth always sounds so organic and simple and in certain respects it is, but it also the product of conscious decisions to feed certain things and prune others. I agree with Helen Keller that life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood; and to refine it even more I turn to James M. Barrie who said, “Life is a long lesson in humility.” Ultimately, it is not length of life, but depth of life that matters. Our lives are but a heartbeat when considered in relation to the history of the universe and yet an examined, authentic life lived in fulfillment of our own purpose, and the encouragement of this in others, leaves a beautiful fingerprint on eternity.