YOLO. It means, “You Only Live Once.”
Okay, Rev. Rebecca Pugh has preached a sermon about this acronym, when the youth group introduced it to her. I have also seen it “tagged” (aka, spray-painted as graffiti art) on the sidewalk in front of the high school (I think by mischievous members of the graduating 2012 senior class). And it’s common terminology in texting or messaging or emails (emails are an old-fashioned way to communicate with the younger generation, by the way).
It’s another way of saying that life is brief, life is now, and you should seize the moment.
In some ways, it’s a belief that I already embrace. Don’t put off everything until tomorrow, or assume you can catch up later … if you have wishes and dreams and passions, follow them sooner. In the present.
None of us can be certain about how long our lives will span. Much of what we do is accumulated within the small daily interactions we share right now … we’re making a difference as we go.
Making a difference should be extended to others, but ideally includes keeping some promises to ourselves, too. Filling our own present with quality of life … with meaningful and moving experiences.
Of course, I don’t actually believe we only live once. Maybe it depends on your definition of life, but I’m pretty open-minded about this whole concept.
As I’ve mentioned before, Jessie seems to visit from time to time. And of course, my faith holds out the promise of a life beyond this one.
Plus, there are other belief systems held by my friends that include the idea of past lives and future lives, reincarnation, karma, the presence of ancestors, the potential of future generations, and so many other aspects of our spiritual journeys … embodied within centuries of philosophy, religious practice and even anecdotal accounts.
I don’t discount other traditions. Some are much older than my own, and have much to say to me. Others are younger, and also offer insights that I find valuable.
I don’t claim to know a whole lot about how the world works, or even how much we can perceive and understand. I also love the philosophy of Christian physicists, for instance, some of whom postulate that our Creator occupies dimensions we cannot perceive, so we only have a partial interaction or explanation of the idea of God.
Well, that makes sense. Yahweh is Yahweh. We are humans. How can we comprehend, or even put into words, all that means?
To some extent, I think all belief systems have information to impart, lessons to teach, and a meaningful context that explains at least some aspects of our young and fleeting mortal experience of an ancient and changing world. None of these systems, Christianity included, can ever answer all our questions.
I think we’ll find out a whole lot more, and be connected to a greater Being and perhaps a greater community of spirits or souls, when we pass beyond our human bounds.
Meanwhile, YOLO. It has its place in the way we live our lives.
Chris reports from Staten Island, where he and Sarah and other adult chaperones and teen members of First Church’s youth group are racking up good karma (there’s a concept borrowed from another faith): “Hard work. Exhausting. Good work. Good people. Great kids. Many lessons. Many stories.”
YOLO. Make every day count. Be passionate now, here, in this moment. You can’t be sure how many hours, days or years await you. Don’t assume there are chances for do-overs; just do whatever it is you’re going to do as messily and boldly and tenderly, as often as possible, the first time around.
YOLO. From my perspective, this can also mean having the courage to believe that there’s a future for you. Choosing a path that can lead toward your long-term goals, and building toward your dreams for this life.
It’s okay to hope for all of it: frisson now, fulfillment later.