“You only live once” is what our generation would say, giving them every reason to do what they want to – You only live once; do what you want. Freedom. No regrets.
Personally, though, I never liked this slogan. It feels like a dangerous concept to subscribe to. What it sounds like to me is this – do what you want, do what your friends tell you to, take drugs, get into fights, go for one night stands, drink as if there is no tomorrow, live on the edge. All kinds of things to try out before you die. And that’s right, walking on the edge – chances of us falling off the edge, then, is pretty high.
Well, for a life of no regrets, what does that matter? And anyway, we all have to face death somewhere down the road. But really, will it really be a life of no regrets, or a life entrapped in a path of ‘no return’? It’s quite a fine line between these two I suppose, but it’s one that we really need to think through properly and figure out before we run all about shouting yolo yolo yolo.
What it feels like to me is that people feel lost. There is this question of, “What do I do with this life? Why do I live?” It seems like we are living for school, for work, for retirement. Boring. Strongly agree! And so we want to break out of this mundanity. We are in search of a purpose to this life. It seems non-existent, and so we spice it up and make it exciting. A moment of excitement, for a lifetime of entrapment.
To be honest, I am not sure how YOLO came about. But it does sound pretty cool, having the potential to encourage people to live their lives to the full, to inspire them to live boldly. Nothing wrong with that, and I am supportive of that. I am not advocating for a life trapped within fears and insecurities, hiding away from this and that. What I am saying though, is that while it can mean a life lived to the fullest in a responsible way, it can also mean a life lived carelessly. You endanger your own life and you endanger others’. You hurt the people who loves you most and those whom you love. What kind of life is this really? Non-inspiring, non-applaudable.
What made me start writing on this all of a sudden (after years of deciding that this concept has given people lame excuses to live recklessly) are the verses in Hebrews 2:14-15 that caught my attention suddenly. In particular, Hebrews 2:15 where it says, “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery“. YOLO suddenly came to my mind when I read that. Sounds pretty muc like it – “do everything I want to try out before I die”. Living with the idea of dying at the back of our minds everyday. Can be good and can be bad as well. Good in a way that we seize every moment that we are living, bad in a way that if we subscribe to using YOLO to back us up for anything and everything, we live our lives irresponsibly as though this is the end and our lives doesn’t matter beyond ourselves and beyond death. It feels more like most of us are living our life in that latter manner out of a fear of death, especially dying without feeling like you have done anything. But at the end of this lifetime when we look back, would we count all we have accomplished (or “accomplished”) as having done anything; would this life count at all?
Well, I went to look up on how the phrase came about after typing that paragraph above on how I actually have no idea where it originated. I stumbled upon this website (http://philosiblog.com/2011/09/26/you-only-live-once-but-if-you-do-it-right-once-is-enough/) that gives some suggestions on how people can live their lives in a meaningful way. I scanned through, and what caught my eyes was this statement, “this is a valid quote absent the innuendo. We do only live once, as far as our present consciousness knows.” Again, I am not sure what he really meant by our present consciousness. But philosophically speaking, it is true that the limitation of our minds has so far only allowed us to comprehend that the time ahead till we breathe our last is the only time we have to live. This is true across all religions or non-religions – regardless of whether you believe in Heaven or hell or reincarnation or the end. That’s as far as our senses can tell us, beyond that takes faith to believe if there is a continuity or an end. If it’s the end, then that’s good because at least even if it has been a regretful life, that is a full stop to it. But what if Heaven and/or hell or reincarnation exists, and this life after death has to do with how you live your life before you breathe your last?
For myself, a Christian, I believe in the existence of life after death. I have to be accountable for the way that I live, in other words, I have to be answerable for my thoughts and actions when asked. I am not taught to live in fear however; in fact, I am taught to live fearlessly. Interestingly, there are sources that say that the Bible has repeated “Do not fear” 365 times, and some people have linked it to how it is one for each day of the year. Every single day, to live my life fearlessly. With a purpose. Live a life that is worth living. Live a life that impacts lives, because that is the only legacy that will go beyond my lifetime, beyond fame and glory, beyond riches. I don’t have to run around accomplishing 1001 things to make my life count. My life purpose has been found in the One who died on my behalf, to free me from my sins, to give me eternal life beyond this physical body, to give me freedom to live without fears and entrapment. And I want to live my life well for Him, Jesus Christ, who has a purpose for each of our lives.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who hadg the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. (Hebrews 2:14-15, New Living Translation)