Lazy or wise?

In the "good advice" column in the May 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping Geneen Roth advises us to live life. The title of the column is "Wisdom to Go" and it's subtitled "When Time is Short, What Really Matters?"

The column is well written (and Roth is cute as the dickens---not that that is germane, of course) but in my opinion lazy.

Roth starts off by referring to a friend who's a surgeon and has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. The friend's reaction to the devastating news? "Wow, now I can stay home from work for a few months."

Roth uses that shocker to transition into how, were we to find out that we don't have long to live, we would change our priorities and live life differently. My reaction? No shit.

Sure, we'd all like to indulge ourselves in activities that we enjoy most. But we don't know our future so we have to plan as if we're going to live a long time and so we scrimp and save. It's like the old proverb about the grasshopper and the ant. Who wants to be starving and out in the cold when winter comes along?

The reason we don't live life as if we only had a week, month, or year to live is... because most of us are going to live a lot longer and so we need to keep our jobs, save our money, pay the rent, not piss off coworkers... et cetera.

So we put off doing those things we most want to do because the future is uncertain---it's when you get a diagnosis of imminent death that life (and death) become certain. It's at that point that we're most able to plan how to use our resources. So there's nothing odd about only living life fully when we know we're about to die--it's at that point that you know exactly how to use your time and money.

Roth ends her essay by saying:
Listen to your longings. Ask yourself, What am I waiting for? And when you realize the correct answer is, Nothing, dive right in.

I think that's a popular way to think but very naive. If we lived life like we were about to die, then we'd have no resources left when we really needed them. The article is written well and the message is a popular one but come on... who can really afford to follow that advice?

If you're curious about that top photo, I took it near the end of the Occoneechee Brown Elf Knob trail at Occoneechee Mountain Park on Sunday. I like how the soft white petals look with the rough texture of the pine bark in the background. It's a nice contrast.


Malibu Stacy said…
When did you start reading Good Housekeeping? Did you pass through a time warp into a 1950's beauty parlor?
Utopia said…
I do like the flower photo!
Teresa said…
LOL. While I'm a cautious type, there's something to be said for living in the now, rather than living for later. As I get older, I feel more and more that you can't obtain something new until you get rid of the old stuff. Sometimes that's material and sometimes it's not.

I don't think you should throw caution to the wind, but worrying about the future to a great extend REALLY does mess up the present. There are things that you can't do later, opportunities that won't come up again and being paralized with the mythical "future" really isn't the best. And some don't mind that... others do. You have to measure your "regret" factor and proceed as you will.

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