What to experience before you die.

A very abstract bucket list. A bedtime story with your morning coffee.

Inspired by the dream she embodies.

I know people who firmly believe that their lives won’t last very long, and they’re okay with it. They come up with — rather simplistic — theories about being able to experience life to the fullest, and thus die before they degenerate, or with — highly complex — moral ideals about the value of life, and the commitment towards the world that comes with it. Some days, I tend to follow the latter, strongly believing that we owe something to the world, and to others. Other days, I try to make sense of the idea that we should only live as long as we’re able to do so in a decent manner. I think there’s a lot to be said about both sides, but I believe that in the end it doesn’t really matter why you believe it’s time.

Time will come anyway, and when it does so, why bother why it is there in that exact moment? I’d rather think about what I should feel. Romantically, I hope it’ll feel as if time has come too quickly; yet, also that I find peace because of the path I walked.

I remember that one day a close friend of mine asked me if I’d like to be remembered if I’d come to die. I — very honestly — answered that I’d rather not. I don’t want to be remembered, and if I would, I hope my beloved ones remember me as a person that brightened up some of their earthly days, brought them laughs, and made them feel comfortable. I hope that’s what I embody, for as long as I walk around, for as long as I feel the sunshine on my arms, and smell the earthy scent of rain on a dry soil.

Maybe life is all about experience, about what we actually live. And how we respond to this.

Maybe there’s even a sort of golden standard, a process, through which we can acquire true happiness. As Gregory Skovoroda, an important Russian philosopher, held that we are born for true happiness, he tried to lay down the path. Life’s a struggle, a search, and at times true happiness might seem unable to find. Then, one is prompted to ask what is the best of all for man. I think there is an abstract path, to unravel what is Skovoroda’sbest of all, or Aristotle’sultimate good in modern society.

As Skovoroda opens up in his Conversation, the question one could ask is: What do you desire most of all in life? A short reference to a belief Ancient Philosophers held teaches us that happiness can be known through wisdom, pictured as an eagle. Wisdom constitutes the right wing, and manliness or strength is believed to be the left wing. Happiness, then, is pictured as “the far seeing eye of the eagle”. It is desirable to understand what happiness consists of. It is an absence of want, an absence of desiring so many things.

Although Skovoroda pictures it as the absence of want, or a lack of desire, I convert it to an actual desire to hold nothing but the most fundamental things. I believe it is a desire to feel accomplished. That, in light of satisfaction, one should only desire the most fundamental things. In this age, I interpret Skovoroda’s desire for the most basic things as the ability to truly experience again.

Experience is what I call the second stage of our path, and it might be the most crucial one. It is here that I value an active commitment towards life, and others. Our desire to find what we need most, what we believe to be most fundamental in the constitution of our lives demands an active engagement with the world around us, as it cannot be found solely in oneself. While stepping up to the needs of these desires, experience teaches us what we find useful in the light of our happiness.

This leads us inevitably to stage three, as experience is followed by knowledge, and wisdom. By acting in accordance with our desires, and generating experience in our lives, we acquire knowledge. Knowledge of life, a knowledge that is intrinsically related to wisdom. A knowledge that is per se valuable for the meaning we find in our lives.

This meaning can be found in others, and it requires empathy which knowledge brings around. Empathy, or the ability to share feelings of another, is the last but one step towards true happiness. I believe that it is necessary for one to be able to not only understand feelings that are not of their own, but also share in them.

Empathy and wisdom, then, constitute the fundamental basis for fulfilment. And since true happiness is to be found in relation with others, it is in fulfilment that it can be revealed. One is to always find its most fundamental desires to be in accordance with others. Both will generate a flow of fulfilment, in which empathy acts as the stairway to shared feelings, mutual understanding, and common direction.

The path mostly flows in this order, and finds its application to be very personal. In the end, one’s contentment makes a good life, and to be content allows for a private justification. But, in my opinion, these sacred words are vital for our understanding, and achievement of true happiness: “Brother helped by brother is like a firm and tall city, strong like a well-founded kingdom.”

It is only in the acting upon our most fundamental desires that we are able to experience, learn, share, and feel accomplished. In relation to others.

Desire, experience, knowledge and wisdom. Empathy, fulfilment. Happiness. A few kindred souls, climbing up to true happiness.

Too much of everything will drown you. Too little will make you mad. It’s a thin line, but then again, the good life belongs to those who are truly guided by their most honest desires.

And I want you.


HERE & NOW - also, this could be a bedtime story.