“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” ― John Green, Looking for Alaska
It’s human nature to always worry about the future, to work hard so we can live a comfortable life once we’ve come to retirement. There’s always that FEAR of uncertainty that unknowingly controls how we live our lives, affecting our choices along the way.
Some are content living a predictable life, following traditional norms, taking as little risks as possible, and sticking to that so-called LIFE Rule Book believing that success or failure in their lives depended on it. But there are some who lives a carefree life, the non-conformists, courageous enough to take risks and fall into the unknown and value those that money can’t buy.
If only time travel is possible so we can take a look at how our lives played out in the eyes of our 60-year old selves, then perhaps, majority would turn their lives around, but sadly, our present-day selves will never know.
In an attempt to fully grasp this lingering thought in my head, I asked several of my friends this simple question –
“What would you want your 60-year old self to say about your life or how you lived your life?”
And these were the answers I gathered:
“I want to say that my life has been an inspiration for others that though I did not live a perfect one I have lived a full life. A life complete with mistakes, failures, tears, regrets but ultimately it was one that was marked with so much love.” – Mark, 35
“I hope the 60-year old me would say – she had lived a crazy life. She fulfilled most of her dreams, lost and found love. She made choices that led her astray, choices that made her stronger, choices she wished she didn’t choose. But she was always optimistic that for every downfall, she knew there would be another day to live and love again. Not a perfect life, but a life she wanted and a life she hoped her son would love her for.” – Zk, 31
“Dear 24-year old Aliza, thank you for taking risks, for always saying yes, for not being scared of trying, for always making mistakes. I am a better person now.” – Aliza, 24
“Good job, JM. You planned well and still enjoyed all that life can give.” – JM, 30
“Good job! You’ve lived a full life.” I’m not the kind of person to focus on money or fame but to live a life that I want – fun, light, full of vigor. I’m content with a simple life. – Jeff, 37
“That it was a satisfying and fulfilling life.” – Elie, 23
“I don’t retire, I travel more. Home is where I wanna go!” – Dina, 31
“If ever i make it, I want my 60 year old self say that the life that we made was awesome and that we had a crazy and wonderful ride. I want him to say that we’ve measured success by our own definition of success and not by how others define it and that we did a great job in choosing well who we would take with us during our journey.” – Rob, 27
I’m sure I’ll say to myself, “Well done! You did exactly how we planned, we dreamed, we conquered, we had our battles and we learned from our mistakes, had good friends, loved, looked after our family, were creative, always happy and working to be more happy, and ran after our dreams. In the end, we made the difference.” – Lorem, 32
As for me, I hope and pray that my 60-year old self would say, “Thank you for following your heart, for believing in yourself that you can do what others only dreamt about, for being unconventional, for taking risks and for taking that leap of faith. You lived a life that is inspiring to others and you touched people’s lives more than you can imagine. You never cared much about fame and fortune because you value things that money can’t buy. Everything you experienced in life, accepting all the good and bad from Universe, was worth all the pain, suffering, laughter and joy. And more than anything, thank you for never losing hope and believing in love again.”
Living a fulfilling life seemed to be the common denominator and the difference lies in one’s own definition of “fulfilling”, which can be intrinsic or extrinsic in nature. A fulfilling life will unfold after a series of fortunate and unfortunate events, hit and miss, wrong turns and detours. And similar with poker, you either fold and play it safe OR go all in.
We only get to live in this lifetime and I do hope that at the end of your life’s journey, you’ll get to say –
I had a good run in life and it was crazy beautiful.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” ― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button