I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in any more than a spouse you’re not crazy about.
Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction.
Be worthy of your advantages.
And read. Read all the time. Read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life.
Develop and protect a moral sensibility, and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big, work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love with all your might.
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life - is an achievement. Not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person.
You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Quite an active verb, “pursuit.” Which leaves, I should think, very little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on YouTube.
Get busy. Have at it. Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, grab hold with both hands.
Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression, because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than “you only live once,” it should be “you live only once”; but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.
None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOO-ing should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence. Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying by-product. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things.
Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air, and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.
Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others - the rest of the 6.8 billion, and those who will follow them.
And then, you too will discover that the great, curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.
The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.