Once Upon a Life


I’ve always heard “I’ll try anything once” and “You only live once”, or YOLO.  Zac hates that particular acronym, so I try to work it in as much as possible.  The idea with YOLO being

… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life – Henry David Thoreau

It’s a deeply American sentiment, I think.  Thoreau went to live off the grid, almost totally self-sufficient, and wrote about his experiences in Walden.  Sidenote:  One wonders, these people who get called *all* three of their names and they aren’t in trouble (Sarah Michelle Gellar), was there another Henry Thoreau living at the same time? Using the David would make sense then.  Thoreau doesn’t seem like a common name.  Maybe he went by H.D.?  Did Henry ever hear his the echo of his mother’s voice raised in frustration whenever anyone addressed him?  One wonders.

The other part of this is, of course, summed up in this quote:

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain

These quotes seem to push us to excellence, to step away from materialism and the oppression of the status quo.   But I feel they touch on something much deeper.  Like I mentioned, it’s part of our subconscious as a nation.  We are rugged individualists, especially here in the Northwest.  We don’t cotton much to being told what to do.  Pioneers, territories, living off the land, etc.  The flip side is this niggling issue of living for the moment, for the pleasure of it, that can land you in worlds of hurt.  “If it feels good, do it”.  “You gotta look out for number one.”  My personal favorite:  “I did it my waaaayyy!”

See the problem?  Sometimes, it can be a tiny step from living deeply to neglecting your responsibilities in order to facilitate, uh, enriching activities.  Actions affecting others must be considered, thoughtful decisions.  If I spend all the money in our bank account on a new wardrobe, what will we do until the next paycheck?  “Hey, I look slammin’!  Who needs food?”  If I drive my car until it runs out of gas, how will I get home? “Oh, I’ll just call a tow truck.”  But it’s my life, right?!

It’s irresponsible.  It’s expensive.  It’s unnecessary.  It’s immature.

It’s selfish.

Contrast this state of mind with Christ.  I was reading in Hebrews today, and this passage from chapter 9 stuck out:

For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.  And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. – Hebrews 9:24-26

“Once, for all time”.  Wow!  He only lived on earth once, and He only died once.  But it was enough.  He nailed the YOLO concept. Literally. Maybe our mindset needs to change.  Instead of thinking of “you only live once” as an opportunity to throw off restraint, let’s think of it as an opportunity to do good.  You only live once, so take care of your family.  You only live once; be kind to everyone you meet, as much as God enables you.  You only live once.  Make it the most of it.


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