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March 10, 2007

How Should We Live?

For reasons more significant than the health of my dog, it is with an almost desperate longing that I look toward spring and summer... provided those seasons bring with them freedom from the concerns that have characterized this winter. Those concerns are too personal, and not entirely mine to address publicly, but take it as an indication of their nature that the question of how we should live our lives has become more prominent in the crowded piazza of my head.

In this day, it wouldn't be excessive to suppose that everybody has received for consideration the advice to live every day as if it could be their last. I see two fundamental problems with this approach:

  • It's not feasible. On a true last day, one would splurge and shirk those long-term responsibilities that eat up so much of our time. In the course of life, moderation and responsibility are precisely the things that allow us to make the next day better. One must make plans for the future and sacrifice in the present to bring them to fruition.
  • In its self-centeredness, the dictum sublimates our relationships with others, and in the long term, those relationships bring the greatest rewards and the most tearing repercussions.

The conclusion to which recent lessons have led me is that the wiser person lives life as if each relationship could end soon, and without much warning. Thus, our personal goals, being secondary, are less apt to be a source of panic and regret, and when relationships end, we can be comfortable that we put as much into them as we were able.

One must have goals, of course, and a certain confidence is necessary in order to assert one's own desires in the face of others' demands, but we too often forget that there must be a balance between these two organizational principles of our lives. Moreover, even Christians, in our society, seem apt to forget that no day is actually our last, and it seems intuitively probable that our handling of relationships, as they come and go, will have a decisive effect on our disposition at our time of dying.

Posted by Justin Katz at March 10, 2007 8:44 AM

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Posted by: Justin at August 10, 2007 11:46 PM
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