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Live Like You Are Dying

March 31, 2011

It’s a classic story. Person finds out they only have so long to live, or realizes that their life has passed them by before they could accomplish all of their goals. They then go out and live life to the fullest, sending a message to the audience that you should not wait until it is too late to experience all that life has to offer. It has been sung about, portrayed in countless movies, and shown in tv shows. I am by no means downplaying the importance of this message, and I fully support living life to the fullest. However, I think amongst all of the hollywood critiquing and society pandering, the critical message is lost in the songs, movies and books that portray this situation. People become too caught up in living with adventure, finding exciting ways to spend their time, and miss the important message of simply appreciating life.

The movie “The Bucket List.” While I have not seen it, and maybe I should before I discuss it, I can somewhat infer what it is about. Two terminally ill men decide to complete all of the things that they had hoped to do before they die. They sky-dive, drive fast cars and essentially live a wild, adventure filled three months before one of them passes away. In the middle of all of this fun, they both realize what their life had truly been missing, and that it is the small things that matter.

The song from which I blatently stole the title for this post, “Live Like you Were Dying” by Tim McGraw, has the same theme as “The Bucket List.” A man realizes he is dying, and then he goes and lives life more fully, even making time for fly fishing. This song and the many movies about this theme are enjoyable and inspiring. I also think the message sent is one from which much of society can learn from. Also, I believe Mill would very much agree with this message: to live life fully, experience many new things, and don’t wait until it is too late. Mill, however, would believe in living this experience heavy lifestyle from the beginning, instead of waiting for the mid-life crisis, or a terminally ill disease, to spark it. Mill discusses how it is important for people to experience life, and learn from these experiences. As long as these adventures do not impede on the rights of others, or create a “nuisance” to society, then they are acceptable, to an extent. Certainly the activities discussed in these movies and songs do not create a “nuisance” to anyone else.

However, Mill does not believe in simply doing as many enjoyable things as possible solely for the enjoyment gained. There are lessons to be learned, corrections to be made, and normal everyday activities scattered throughout. While trying to make up for a lifetime void of experiences in three months can seem exciting, it is not what the viewer should focus on. Instead, as Mill would support, life your full life by this message, and enjoy the simple things, experience new things, and learn and adapt throughout.

  1. Josh Platko permalink
    April 1, 2011 12:37 PM

    I really liked reading this post, about how we should live life to our fullest. Taking chances and not being scared of the outcome, but of course not being silly stupid and doing something super regretable. The Bucket List is a great movie to compare to, as I have seen the movie. Jack Nicholoson is a super rich guy and he meets Morgan Freeman a man on the poorer side of things. Jack and Morgan make a list of things they want to do, and Jack pays for it all. Jack is a rich old man with very few friends, if any. As the two spend time together, Jack realizes life is about the small thigns (like you said) and Morgan helped him show that. I also agree with your statement about Mill agreeing with this adventourous lifestyle. As long as they learn from their mistakes and are doing acceptable things in the community then it is good. Lets all hope that we can learn from this movie, and go on to live happy lives for a long time!!

  2. Nicholas Steiner permalink
    April 1, 2011 6:28 PM

    This was an interesting post. I liked how you described how our Mill-ian ideas kick in when we know that the end is near. It seems as though if we lived everyday like it was our last, at least Mill would argue, we would be a better society for doing so. Its really sad that it seems as though we wait until the last minute to live our life to the fullest. I think again, like you implied, Mill would say that we have an obligation to try new things to educate not only ourselves but everyone else as well. He would also argue for us to experiment throughout our lives and not just at the end.

  3. alexqhe permalink
    April 2, 2011 3:59 PM

    While I understand where the original poster is coming from, I can’t say that I entirely agree with the conclusion that you draw from movies like these. You – and Josh above – look at the movie and see these people rediscovering themselves through the adventures that they shared together, and thus, are considered to be living their lives to the fullest. Who is to say that you or I aren’t living life to the fullest right now? It’s all a matter of perspective.

    Mill indeed talks about learning through the empiricism of life — but I don’t think that these movies send out the right signal on how to do it. For me, it’s simply not feasible nor practical to jump up and abandon everything, and to live the life of adventure portrayed in the movie. Movies like these paint such unrealistic portraits of what life should be like, and then make you feel criminal when you’re not living up to them. As you stated in your original post, “… they both realize what their life had truly been missing, and that it is the small things that matter.” I don’t think my life is missing anything — it’s just a matter of learning to appreciate what I do have. Perhaps there is something to be found in the mundaneness of the rituals that we all go through on a daily basis; and although I admittedly don’t live life as if every day were my last, who does? The world would be a terrible place if everyone did. Just think about the consequences on society for a second if that were the case. A total Hobbesian state of nature would most likely result.

  4. kkokotil permalink
    April 16, 2011 10:45 PM

    I love this blog because this deals with one of my all-time favorite quotes: “Live life to the fullest.” In my opinion, living life to the fullest means enjoying every day no matter what it entails. It doesn’t mean to go jump out of planes or do something crazy every day, but rather to appreciate your every day blessings and always strive for the best. If I were to die tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret that I didn’t do something, although I may be upset I didn’t have more time to do certain things. I do have goals and things I want to do, but I recognize that I am not in a position to do or achieve those things yet. I feel confident that I am on the right path to accomplishing those things before I die, but I can’t tell myself I am not living enough just because I haven’t done everything as of right now. Also, I think that living life to the fullest relates to the personal relationships that one has in life. Always telling people how important or special they are is really important to me because if I were to die tomorrow that is the one thing that I would for sure want to make sure I did!

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