Most of us base our lives on the premonition that we will live well into old age, or we refuse to think about or acknowledge the fact that we will die one day. What if the human lifespan was only 40 years. How would we live our lives differently?
Every day counts!
Death in the modern world is rarely talked about and if it is, it is always sugar coated. We are shielded from the reality and rarely contemplate what being a mortal on Earth actually means. We will not be here for ever. Time is limited and how we decide to use it matters.
Tribal people live their lives day by day with little thought to what the future brings. They have little choice but to place their faith in the natural world and take each day as it comes.
With the onset of agriculture people became less interested in living their lives on a day to day basis and instead began saving for the future. This was made possible by the capacity to store food that accompanied a sedentary agrarian lifestyle. If the farmers tilled the land hard today they could hopefully ensure they survived if they had a bad growing season in the future. This created a pretty horrific “present” for the majority.
The mindset of saving for the future at the expense of the present has been magnified greatly in the modern world. It is not uncommon for people to wait until retirement to collect the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
This is unnatural for our species. Delaying gratification and facing uncomfortable situations add value to our lives. Placing life on hold for a future that may never come is counterintuitive.
If the average human life span was 40 years would we still live in such a conservative fashion?
Living V.S Waiting
As I type these words I am overlooking a lake in the south of Spain. The sunlight glistens on the water creating a montage of patterns. A concert of crickets is chirping, and the roaches call for a mate from the tops of the pines. Life is peaceful here. Tomorrow I could breathe my last breath and I would have no regrets.
Although I have wants for the future the same as anybody else. I do not worry about it. Never will you hear me say:
“Tomorrow I will start living!”
Many people have told me that they couldn’t fathom living in this fashion. “Are you not worried about owning house, or what about your pension?” This makes me chuckle.
It is not that I think looking to the future is undesirable. However, I believe it is over zealous to presume the plan will always come to fruition.
Imagine a person who spends most of their time doing something they hate. They save as much as possible, in hope that when they retire they will claim the fruits of their labour and finally start living. How would that individual feel if they were to reach their destination only to find health problems, bad relationships, and a sense of time wasted? Would this not be a bitter pill to swallow?
Too many of us are looking 5, 10, even 40 years into the future and we forget today!
Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want. Accepting a situation that is less than desirable in the short term (think max. 1 year) can sometimes be beneficial in the long term. This is part of the game.
Spending years or decades doing things we hate in promise of a better future is not living. It is waiting. If a situation is actively making you or those around you unhappy it is perhaps wiser to work towards changing the situation, as opposed to passively waiting until it runs its course and pays a bounty.
If we knew in our teens we would only exist until the age of 40 how would we live our lives? Would we play the game safe and chase security? Would we base our lives on the expectations of others?
Or would we throw caution to the wind and head out and experience everything the heart desires?
Connecting with others
Often the way we treat those closest to us is representative of how much time we spend around them. If we have not seen our family or friends for a long stretch, our appreciation for them when we rekindle is deep. On the other hand, when they are around all the time sometimes we can take each other for granted.
This has a lot to do with our perception that they will always be in our lives. We do not need to appreciate them as much now as there are other things that are of more pressing concern. There will be time for them later in any case.
Now imagine that as with you your family and friends would only live until 40 (or 10-15 years more than their current age). Would we be so careless with the moments we spend with them? Or would we try to enjoy and capture those moments to our fullest capacity?
Would we place the acquisition of material wealth over time with those closest to us?
One of the major regrets of the dying is not giving friends and family members the time and effort they deserve. If we stop trying to chase security in the future, we can focus our attention on what is important in the present.
You don’t want to wake up one day and find that a decade or more has passed and you can’t recall spending your time on much that holds meaning to you!
Enduring a horrific present to ensure security and comfort in the future is the agricultural mindset. The wild mind trusts that the universe will always provide, and so is able to live for today!
Let’s go out on a whim here and presume we will only live until 40, or if you are over 40 for another 10-15 years. Answer the following three questions with this in mind.
How would you live your life differently?
– How would you allocate your time?
– What experiences would you want to have had?
How would you treat those around you differently?
– Would you behave differently?
– Would you make more of an effort?
Who would you want to become?
– How will you help?
– How will you be remembered?
If we inspire to live with these questions in mind, we will not wake up and reminisce about a life that passed us by. We can live more intensely and put all our cards on the table.
If we make it to forty (or whatever age) at least we can say we lived intentionally.
We have no regrets!