…said the classics major once with a smug, self-satisfied expression, which soon disappeared when realization hit.
But unlike most proverbial phrases, this one loses its triteness and becomes terrifying as you slowly realize that it is true. When you’re a child, time goes so slowly that it seems like you’ll be a child forever. I remember being 6 years old and thinking the age of 10 was a ripe age I wouldn’t reach anytime soon. As I get older, the faster time goes. I can barely even remember being 10 years old, it went by so quickly.
Maybe this perception is a function of being insanely busy for most of my life. Maybe it’s an issue with my mindset; maybe I’m just not considering it in the right way.
Or maybe our lives really are that short.
I just realized that I am less than halfway to 40, and that time went by so quickly that it’s terrifying. I’m confronted with a thousand disheartening thoughts every day as I contemplate this, wondering how or if I’m going to leave any kind of legacy. I have begun wondering what I want to leave behind, besides a notebook full of quotations and a few scribbled translations. What will I be remembered for, if anything?
Never before did the Bard strike the core of my being so deeply:
“When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held…” (Sonnet II).
Someday, I may be old and obsolete. And for some strange reason, all I can think about is the future. I haven’t been enjoying this time as much as I ought, especially considering the truth of the words quoted above.
It is now that I realize the importance of making the most of every moment, even when things aren’t going my way. I tend to obsess about the future, rather than enjoy the moment I’m in. Unfortunately, college life tends to engender that sort of mindset, since in theory we’re all here as a means of securing our futures. I’ve gotten very fixated on the future and have forgotten how to live “in the moment” so to speak.
If my homeschool background gave me anything, it was the ability to enjoy every passing minute, without reference to how such-and-such was going to affect my future. I grew up largely without having to contemplate the future very much. I didn’t have school and peers to pressure me into obsessing about the future. Now that I’ve been in the college mindset for 3 years, I feel as if I have lost that ability to the point where I can’t simply enjoy a moment.
I have a lot to enjoy. I attend one of the best colleges in the country, and have great friends. I am majoring in a subject I am passionate about, and have been offered many great opportunities. I spend all my time reading, and reading literature that I mostly enjoy. I get to learn a lot of great things. And I forget all of that partly because I’m a selfish human that tends to take things for granted, but also because the futurity mindset has set in and taken away my enjoyment and appreciation of those things.
Therefore, I am going to make a concerted effort to live in each moment.
I also realized that upon considering my “life goals,” it all boils down to basically this: when I reach the end of my life, first and foremost I want to look back and honestly be able to say that I have lived well and fully, in accordance with my Christian principles. It doesn’t matter what I ultimately end up doing with my career, though I still have many ambitions. What is more important is that I have lived well, even if my career plans don’t fit my current ideals.
After all, Socrates’ main goal was simply to live well. He didn’t live to be the best, or wisest, or most learned. He asked questions so that he could learn what it meant to truly live well. He had a point.