I can be a sucker for a good quote, especially if it’s funny. In these days of Pinterest, self-help and mindset creation there is ‘inspiration’ everywhere. Sometimes the right message at an appropriate time can succeed in lifting your mood and giving you some perspective, but at others seeing those quotes makes you feel alienated and alone (Why can’t I see things like that? Why is that person so strong and empowered?)
I also worry about how some people seek guidance from the wrong sources – celebrities, secular gods that pour out wisdom and have a huge influence on a large following, especially the young. The number of people who identify themselves as religious is declining, but there is still a need to fill a void, a feeling that something is missing and a desire to reach for more, but it often isn’t being filled by God, but by secular versions of spirituality and self-reliance.
One example of a quote that is often used is ‘Live every moment like it’s your last’. I appreciate the sentiment, but I always think it creates a lot of pressure. What about the times that we don’t really feel like seizing the day, but curling up on the sofa and watching crap telly? The mornings when we feel a bit sluggish and sorry for ourselves and we just want to get through the day with as little resistance as possible? Also, if we live every moment like it’s our last, we would probably not be very healthy or have any long term prospects. If we took the message literally, a lot of people would just constantly indulge in what they see as life’s greatest pleasures, which doesn’t help society a great deal.
We need a balance ☯️, between doing what makes us truly happy and doing what we are here to do, love others and improve the world using our unique gifts and talents. Hopefully both can be compatible, but it’s not always clear what our vocation is or even what makes us happy. It can take years of distraction and misdirection before we realise what we should be doing with the time we have given to us. That isn’t a reason to feel bad that we aren’t living every moment like it’s our last though. That kind of pressure is destructive, and I know that when I am spending too much energy worrying about whether I’m going about things in the right way and where everything is headed, I don’t stop to smell the flowers and feel the wind on my face (there’s probably a quote in there somewhere).
So how do we find realistic motivation and tangible inspiration from this? I plan to live life like it’s…life. Messy, hard, confusing and disappointing, but also beautiful, amazing, joyful and enriching.
We can learn a lot from the natural world when we think about how we should be. The flowers grow, are nourished, rained upon and buffeted about, blossom, then in their time they wither and die (this is a paraphrase from Isaiah 40:8). They endure hardship and give others joy. We will be provided for, and as a good friend once said to me in a time of trauma, there is nothing we will be dealt that we haven’t the strength to cope with. We do have to make the effort to appreciate and elevate the life we have though. Let’s live as if the next moment won’t be our last, but knowing that one day it will be, and we have stuff to do.