You Only Live Once

The sun rays were dazzling on my face. I could hear the sound of waves splashing against the shore. But it was primarily the noise of children playing in water that woke me up from my slumber. I wondered what exactly I was doing on a beach and that too so close to the sea. All my life I had dreaded the water. Just as I saw a huge wave approaching the shore, I got up to run towards the road, but the wave washed me down. It was in that moment when I was face to face with my biggest fear that I realised it was not such a big deal at all. In fact, I would be lying if I said that I did not enjoy this little adventure with the waves. All my life I had dreamt of becoming a swimming champion, of plunging across rivers and seas to set new world records. But the fear of drowning had drowned my dreams. Today, I was filled with an immense urge to go back and achieve my unfulfilled dreams. I started treading across the beach, planning my course of action ahead, just then, a hawker walked through me with his cart. I looked around perplexed and bewildered. How could that happen? Just then, the car accident that had happened last night flashed across my eyes. Had I died? That shouldn’t be, I had so much to do especially right now, when my passion of swimming across the seas had been rekindled. Soon another man walked through me and I realized that I had indeed died and with me had died my long suppressed dream of becoming a swimming champion. How I wish I could get a chance to talk to my living self and explain that the waves were no big deal…How I wish I could get a chance to live one more time.

The above narrative rightly bolsters the thought that fear is the biggest illusion of mankind. We live in a constant fear of failure, of being judged by the society thereby doubting our own potential which is actually limitless. It is this fear that acts as a deterrent in the way of our dreams and in a matter of few years there we are on our deathbed, regretting the decisions we didn’t take, following the beaten track because we were too afraid to listen to the inner voice that could have led us to our dreams! Ted Hughes once said “The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.”

We often hear people saying that life is a race, yes it indeed is, but not against our fellow mates but against time which is ticking fast bringing us closer to death with each transient hour. So stop brooding over your past or worrying about your future. Repenting over your past mistakes is only going to fill you with grief and steal away the precious chance of doing something good in the present or future. Similarly, constantly worrying over your future is only going to rob you of the precious time you have now to act and make the most of your abilities. You wish to have a tattoo; go get it. You want to travel; just pack the rucksack and leave. The life that you want to live is the sum total of the choices you make and sometimes you get only one chance. One chance to tell someone that you love him/her, to reconcile a sour friendship, to pursue a hobby you always wanted to, to stand up for your beliefs and values, sometimes life indeed gives you only one single chance!

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to question the way we live our lives. Do you actually remember when was the last time you went to office all enthusiastic about the day without complaining about your boring life? When did you last have a heartfelt conversation with your favourite person without getting distracted by the notifications on your phone or worrying about your future plans? It is today, as we have been prohibited from going out or meeting our friends and relatives do we realize the importance of these tiny moments that we so casually ignored either brooding over the past or worrying about the future. Today, as its been months since we went to our workplace, we actually miss working together, sharing ideas with our colleagues over a cup of coffee or tea. Now that we have plenty of time to surf our phones, we miss the light-hearted conversations we used to have with our friends and relatives. So why not enjoy these precious moments when we are actually present there! The same holds true for the chance that we have got now to spend time with our family. Let us ensure that instead of whining about the situation, we celebrate each day, make memories that we would cherish all our lives, and live every day to the fullest, because now more than ever before, we actually don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow!

Eventually, something we love, something we cherish is going to perish and then we will fall to the floor, crying and whining about not making the most of what we had. We know this is going to happen and still, we take it for granted and miss out on various opportunities which if conquered would have led us to a different life altogether.

The elixir to a fulfilling life lies in living life one day at a time. Try to find answers to the long-hidden questions deep inside your heart. Conquer your fears, paint the picture of your life as you want to – full of colours, patterns and textures. Spread happiness around you. Do something every day that pushes you out of your comfort zone.

This, however, does not convey that we shirk from our responsibilities under the garb of “YOLO”. Today, one sees flippant youth immersed in revelry, unmindful of its duties towards its families and clueless about its future, focussed only on living each day to the fullest. Yes, we only live once, but living it right involves fulfilling our responsibilities towards our families, our alma mater and most importantly towards our own self while enjoying the gift of life. Let us strive each day to utilize this gift of God to the best possible extent so that we are remembered long after our deaths, let us leave behind footprints on the sands of time reinforcing God’s and this world’s belief in humanity.

If we believe Hindu mythology, we get human life after 8 million 400 thousand births! So let us pledge to make the most of every precious moment that we have got, celebrate this gift of life and leave behind a legacy for our future generations to marvel and take inspiration from. Let us put our fears and apprehensions aside, explore new avenues, and keep learning something new each day. This world has so much to offer. Don’t forget to ask yourself every day, “Would I be doing this if it were the last day of my life?” Yes, we get just one life, but if we live the right way, even one life is enough to fill us with ecstasy and peace at the time of death. Follow your dreams and make sure you make the right choices to not live a life full of regrets.

Paulo Coelho has rightly remarked, “ We think so much about the future that we neglect the present, and thus experience neither the present nor the future. We live as if we were never going to die, and die as if we had never lived.” So go ahead and appreciate the beauty around you. Experience the blissful serenity of sleeping in your mother’s lap, laugh until your stomach hurts as you engage in playful conversations with your friends, feel your heartbeat rise as you hold your partner’s hand, after all, it is these tiny yet ecstatic moments that make our lives worth living. Seize every opportunity that comes your way, enjoy every moment that life unfurls before the final drop of the curtain on all the shadows and shines of life.

-Gazal Kaura (One of the Prize Winners of Article Writing Competition 2020 in the 25-44 Years Age Group)

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