This I Believe

Joseph - Wilmington, Massachusetts
Entered on December 12, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem
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——Crossing that Bridge when it Comes——

What will you do as you get older, get a good job, set some money aside, work, save up all your transferable sick days, let that money grow, and then wait until you retire so you can use that nest egg to take a trip, maybe go parasailing or skydiving, maybe get a little cottage down in Florida where you can relax all day, scuba dive every now and then, go to church on Sundays. During the holidays you can go up north to visit the grand kids, and then in the summer they can return the favor. I will admit, that sounds like a pretty good life, well, I’d say that that would be the life, but while that is what happens to a lot of people, it is not how everyone ends up living their lives. So if that happens to me, well great, but until then, I believe in living for the moment you currently occupy because you never know what could happen between now and then that could rain all over those plans.

Lets face it, not many four year olds will say that they want to retire to Florida and live until they are eighty. They will probably tell you that they are going to be an astronaut or a fireman, or in a few cases, a fire truck, and hey why not. When you are four, it is your job to be those things you want to, play fire man or hospital or super-hero. When you are four or five, that is the time to do those things.

When you are in school, you should still do your work, but do not sit in a room reading up on colleges or retirement plans when you are fourteen or fifteen, you should be outside playing baseball, or if sports are not your thing, then try a hand at something else that interests you. If there is one thing that the majority of adults in my life have told me, its that the things you regret when you are older will not be the ones you tried at and failed, it will be those things you could have tried, and would have liked to have tried, but didn’t. Take a shot at any opportunity given to you. If you fail, well, you will get over it, and it will give you something else to laugh about later on. Those are the things you should take a hold of when you are young because they can open up doors for you in the future while all you are trying to do is live in the moment. you never know what you will be good at unless you try.

One thing that I feel about living in the moment that could raise debate is that you should not go through life without getting into trouble. Don’t always live inside the guidelines and be the goody goody. Make a little mischief while you can. Now I am in no way saying that you should rob a bank or commit a felon or murder someone, but every now and then, take the last cookie when you are not supposed to, or sneak some of the apples off your neighbors tree, or heck, even light some fire-works, do something that you will someday be able to tell and laugh about at a camp-fire with some buds, something that you can tell your kids not to do and then they will probably do it too. And while it might not be “right”, it is how it should happen, and in a lot of cases, it is how it will happen. And one more time for safety sake, I am not encouraging armed robbery, maybe just robbery of your math teacher’s pencil.

One thing I do want to get across, do not take the life you are currently living for granted thinking that you will be fine in the future. The other morning, my mother, who owns a pre school, was crying. She was sad because she had been informed that the father of two of the little girls was in the hospital. This thirty year old man with two young children and a wife and his whole life ahead of him had been diagnosed with cancer in his esophagus, his stomach, and his liver and he had internal bleeding in one of his organs. He will probably never leave the hospital.

Now I am not saying that he did or did not treat every moment like it could have been his last, I did not even know him, I have never met him, but I am just saying, god forbid, that could happen to anyone, so don’t just live your life in the lines, working, always trying to beat deadlines so that you can retire to a nice life, because if there is one thing about life you can be sure about, it’s that you can never be too sure about anything. One or more of a million things could happen between now and when you retire, so live each moment expecting the next, but not depending on it. Robert Burns, a Scottish poet, put into one of his poems, The best laid schemes o’ mice and men Gang aft agley [often go wrong] And leave us nought but grief and pain For promised joy. This is saying that you can work your whole life for one thing, and put all of your time and effort into it, and then one thing goes wrong, whether it be cancer in your liver or a hurricane across the country, and there goes all of your plans. You need to live for the moment and get your lives worth while you can. I truly believe this.

So what I am trying to get across is that if you want to retire to a Florida beach house with a nice view of the water, great, I hope you get it, but what if you don’t, that would be sort of depressing, so until you are in that four room, low maintenance cottage, I believe in living for the moment you currently occupy because that is the only time that you can be sure about. And as far as Florida and a nest egg, I will be sure to cross that bridge when it comes, if it comes.