I am fascinated about the idea of living life to the fullest. A timeless idea, steaming from the classical carpe diem, reiterated so often nowadays in books on self-development. As much as this idea fascinates me I still cannot claim to know for sure what it truly means to live to the fullest. Perhaps the answer is subjective and I need to find it for myself or perhaps it is objective and universal but nobody truly knows it. It remains thus an open question, awaiting answer. I would describe myself as being very and sometimes painfully aware of how short life is. There are so many dreams to dream, people to meet and better version of myself to become that life simply seems too short, regardless of the number of years lived.
This is a common phenomenon, to look back at the moments when we think we have been the happiest. Even to wish to be back in that exact moment. Just think for a second about the summers in your life and you will probably get such a feeling. But rather than going back in time, I am more interested in weather or not I have made the most of those moments of intense pleasure and happiness. Of course, this begs the question, how does one enjoy a moment of great pleasure and happiness most? And herein lies the dilemma that I thought about so much and I still do at times.
Imagine a moment of intense pleasure and/or great happiness. It could be an amazing conversation with a person you feel the desire to absorb within your own, a moment of intense creative activity, a moment of exercising your talent, passionate sexual activity or anything that applies to you personally. It must be however a moment in which the time seems to fly away. It needs to be such a moment that when it is over you check the time and you try to grasp the fact that an hour or more have gone by in a matter of what seemed to you to have been seconds. Suffices to say that I am fascinated by the effects of such moments and I find that there are few greater pleasures than the feeling that makes you say “when I first kissed you it was morning, and now after ten minutes spent in your arms, four hours have passed”.
How do you enjoy such moment best? I have found two possible options which sometimes seem contradictory just to seem somehow co-existent and co-dependent other times. First possible option, you make a voluntary and conscious effort to enjoy every single minute, every singe second. This follows from the idea of living in the moment, being completely aware of that what is happening to you ‘in the now’. Second option is you let yourself be out of time, without making any voluntary effort to be aware of every minute.
From the moment this dilemma appeared in my mind I have questioned a few of my friends on their views. The opinions have been mixed, with some advantage for the second option however. It’s clear to me that there is no universal right or wrong answer. I personally advocate for the second option.
Why? Because I believe that as humans we love and get intense pleasure and happiness from the moments when we feel superhumans, the moments when we outgrow our condition. The Latin writer Sallustius saw humans as being half gods and half beasts, being able to look at the stars and appreciate their beauty, but unable to reach them. A form of struggle results which can give rise to a frustration of being so limited as we sometimes feel we are. Overcoming these limitations and consequently this frustration brings pleasure and potentially, happiness.
That is why I advocate for freely enjoying the feeling of being out of time, as time is one of the greatest limitations that we as humans face. Our life is limited by time, our ways of enjoying it are limited by time as well, everything we do and everything we are is a subject of time and there is a burning inner desire in us to escape it. When we manage to do it, even for a few minutes, we tend to have a sense of “being more”.
Another limitation that we face is that imposed by our own bodies. Our bodies are not designed to fly or to soar and yet we managed to find ways to make it possible, with the help of airplanes and parachutes. In practicing such activities, some of us also experience great pleasure and a feeling of being alive. A more simple and accessible example is perhaps driving at high speeds. The human body is limited to a low speed by comparison with that of a car. Driving at high speeds gives the impression of overcoming this limit. It also gives the feeling that we are braving death, another limit we face. All of these are examples of pleasure and happiness coming from doing something that seems to be beyond our nature and powers. Paradoxically, it seems that it is intrinsicall-y human to aspire to be a superhuman.
Sometimes we have a feeling of being more than a human wrapped in human form, somehow limited, with perhaps a hint of claustrophobia. I advocate for doing exactly what makes us super humans, for seeking this feeling in human interaction, in art within, in facing our deepest fears and also for enjoying every minute and every second of “being more”.
Alec is a full time writer, dreamer and art lover. He took to writing at age 14 and his latest novel is called A hospital for souls.