If I had a dollar (or, better still… a day ) for every time I have heard someone say “…you only get one life…[so make the most of it]”or “Carpe Diem”, I would have a very long life indeed! I am sure I have even said it myself, but I say it with much more reverence these days; if I even say it at all…
The intended point, I am sure, is that it is supposed to remind the listener that they have one life and they shouldn’t be ‘wasting’ it. The listener is then supposed to have their perspective realigned and go forth and enjoy life that much more… or so it is supposed to go…
The fact is that most of the healthier world dispense this wisdom without ever really knowing or truly comprehending what they are saying at the time. It has become so over used that it has started losing all meaning whatsoever.
In the same way the world preaches ‘world peace’ and ‘save the planet’ and yet it has systematically ignored all chances of doing so and wasted many opportunities until it has become too late.
Worse still ‘…you only have one life…’ It is even being dispensed to the sick and chronically ill as a way of placating them and as some sort of pseudo ‘encouragement’ to get them to be quiet, go away, and get on with their lives and suffering. I think that in this way it is a complete misuse of the proverb, and is even the lowest form of cruelty.
There is no one more acutely aware of the value of life then those who fight hardest for it. Those that have to suffer just to be present in it. There is nothing that I am more conscious of as I lay in bed, writhing in pain and agony, that I will never have this day back! It is gone forever from my allotted time on this earth and so it feels particularly painful as I subtract and farewell it forever!!
The more flares equals the more loss of life and time. The more symptoms equals the harder the fight.
It always makes me marvel though at the people who remind me of this saying as they are also the ones that will generally bemoan the trivial inconveniences of life, that will take great risks with their health and their lives, and rarely spend much time helping their fellow man.
It has also been used as a mandate for most people who plan to throw ‘caution to the wind’ and do whatever they wish for as long as they wish… Whilst there is an inherent wisdom in following our calling and purpose in life, I don’t think its a blank cheque for risking lives, foolish lifestyle choices and disregarding any moral responsibilities that we have as human beings.
Lives are more than merely acting on whims and selfish compulsions…
I think the fact that we only have one life to live is generally much more deeply appreciated for those who have had to overcome much adversity and challenge, and to those who have lost someone so dear to them that they recognize the true frailty of the human body. Life can be subtracted and erased quickly and without warning.
Again, most people who are dispensing this truism are often people who have the benefit of health and other amenities that can enable them to change things that are still within their power, to live a life which is more conducive to their happiness and be able to do the same for their fellow man.
Hence I have become quite hardened to those who bemoan an unhappy job, an unhappy relationship, a noisy neighbor, annoying traffic jams and the rising cost of holidays.
Sadly it is often people who are at the end of their lives or living on the edge of it (for health reasons or such) that ever truly comprehend those words. It is those who have been forced to watch the sands of time slip through our fingers whilst wishing we had the ability to do more with it, that have ever truly recognised the real VALUE of those hours…
A walk in a field. The smile of a friend. The warm sun on your face. The smell of a loved ones skin and hair. The awe of nature. Tears of joy. A day without pain or suffering. These are the things that we miss from our days and our one life, for those who REALLY understand the meaning of words ONE LIFE TO LIVE or CARPE DIEM!
When I look back on my life and the times I feel have been taken from me, by illness, I will miss these things. Not the luxuries, not the jobs, not the money, not the drinking, not the material things, not the fame or accolades.
Since having my physical abilities diminished and knowing that I only have ONE life to live out and use to the best of my ability, what have I endeavored to and do with it? Well…
I have rescued animals, started charities, started advocacy for illness and diseases, lobbied for causes, helped start support groups, been a loving and devoted wife, and loved all those who have stood by me and cherished their true kindness and empathy; which is more than most people will do in their entire lives. All this whilst confined to a bed or wheelchair. I must say that I am most proud of my efforts. If I died tomorrow I am happy with what I did with these difficult circumstances; perhaps even more proud than when I was healthier and more able bodied.
Because I have one life to live I try and choose the things that have the most meaning and will do the most good for as long as I can. I live more authentically than I ever did and hold my head higher, and with more dignity than I ever could before.
My hard days are hard. Its not my fault or my failing. But I value this one life more than anyone could ever put in words and that is why I am still here today.