If you really want to live, we'd better start at once to try;
If we don't, it doesn't matter, but we'd better start to die.
- W.H. Auden
The lines by Auden reproduced above compress precisely what this book is about. The choice is simple: between now and the inevitable end of our days, we can choose either to live or to die. Biological life is an automatic process, as long as we take care of the needs of the body. But to live in the sense the poet means it is by no means something that will happen by itself. In fact everything conspires against it: if we don't take charge of its direction, our life will be controlled by the outside to serve the purpose of some other agency. Biologically programmed instincts will use it to replicate the genetic material we carry; the culture will make sure that we use it to propagate its values and institutions; and other people will try to take as much of our energy as possible to further their own agenda-all of this without regard to how any of this will affect us. We cannot expect anyone to help us live; we must discover how to do it by ourselves.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
If you really want to live, we'd better start at once to try
From Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the opening paragraph.