Mein Neues Leben in Deutschland

Monday, December 05, 2005

No Day But Today

When I was a student in Ateneo, I heard this story. Many people were asked a question. What would they do if they had 3 days to live. People said things like saying sorry to a friend or relative they have had a fight with, or telling a special someone how much they meant to them, or going to confession. And in the end, a wise-ass Jesuit priest says, I'll continue playing ping-pong. He said (in all humility) that he has lived his life the best way he believed (in accordance to his faith) that even if he were to die at that very moment, he would be ready. No last minute arrangements. No regrets.

I rather liked the wisdom in that story. It suggests that we live every minute our lives as fully as possible because there is no absolute guarantee that we will all see the sun rise the next day, or the day after that.

This of course doesn't mean that we don't have to do our work because there's no guarantee our boss, our company or even ourselves will be around the next day. I believe the idea is to be present in the moment. Not to live a life of regrets.

I can't control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only goal is just
To be
There's only now
There's only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today

from the song Another Day. From the musical Rent

What Would You Do if You Won a Million Dollars?

Q: What would you do if you won a million dollars? Or in our hypermedic world of dynamically changing linkages...€ 853,806.27 or Php 54,140,000.00. (Live mid-market rates as of 2005.12.05 00:28:28 UTC as supplied by The Universal Currency Converter)
Ernest: "It depends on what am doing. If I was preparing dinner when i won it, I would check the oven to make sure the toscana meatballs weren't burning. If I was working out I would probably make sure I drank water so I don't get dehydrated.
Q: You mean you don't care if you won a million dollars (or € 853,806.27 or Php 54,140,000) ?
Ernest: Oh of course I care. Remember what I said about the question "What would you do if you had 3 days to live?" from my previous post? Well its the same principle. Except I'm being the smart-ass this time.
Q: Most people say they'll buy a _________(insert dream car here) or a house in _____________ (insert dream vacation place here)´. But you will just go about your daily life?
Ernest: In a way, yes. Of course "daily life" itslef will change. I mean I'd buy better quality meat or cheese for the toscana meatballs.
Q: So if you had won a million dollars (or € 853,806.27 or Php 54,140,000) you would buy better meat and cheese?
Ernest: Most people middle to upper class bracket will probably answer by saying that they'll buy stuff or invest or donate to charity or something like that. While some things you can do with it can make a big difference in the world and save lives, most people will just want to simply make their lives very VERY comfortable. I've often heard that most people who won large sums of money usually end up back to where they started shortly after the money burns out. Apparently they enter into a consumer frenzy buying things they previously wanted but could not afford. They enter into a new spending bracket and they want even more expensive stuff.

Ernest: I think it's a futile search for hapiness though materialism. I think materialism is caused by the false notion that we are unhappy at the moment because of our financial constraints. I think we all have the capacity for happiness HERE and NOW. Believing that a million dollars or ...€ 853,806.27 or Php 54,140,000.00 can...
Q: ...You should stop doing that.
Ernest: What?
Q: Converting. Its annoying. It's not as funny as you think you know.
Ernest: But Its the first time I converted. It was you who was doing the all the repetitive conversions up to now.
Q: We are the same person you know.
Ernest: Oh right, sorry.
Q: Ok. You were saying?
Ernest: Yes. Believing that winning a million dollars, will make us happy or happier is an illusion. Once we purchase what we want, our elevated sensibilities or tastes will have us wanting even finer and more expensive things. I could fairly speculate it will never end.
Q: You mean you won't care if you won $1,000,000.00?
Ernest: Like I said, its just materialism
Q: But you did win $1,000,000.00. Here's the check.
Ernest: OMG! WOW! REALLY! WOW! (thinks of buying G5's, designer furniture, designer clothes, travelling around the world)
Q: I was only kidding of course
Ernest: Damn.
Q: Don't you think writing a ficticious interview is a pretty lame way of expressing and idea?
Ernest: Not until you mentioned it....
Q: But you do realize that its you who are actually wrting the questions you are answering, so it doesn't make sense that you "realize" something from the questions?
Ernest: No. In fact it is in questioning and answering ourselves truthfully that we come to somevery important self-realizations.
Q: You just set that up didin't you?
Ernest: Yes.