Tuesday, January 7, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Life ~ Day 7 ~ Oscar Wilde

Day 7 ~

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” 

Oscar Wilde


Hey there. We're a week into this and I'm having a blast with these quotes. Well, with most of them anyway.

Up today, the 7th most popular quote about life according to Goodreads, brought to you courtesy of Oscar Wilde, the well-loved Irish writer and poet. From a well-to-do family, he was highly educated and wrote of his experiences and perspective.

He's best known for his works The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, as well as for his conviction and imprisonment for the crime of sodomy after he sued his lover's father for libel.

He was an interesting person as much for his personal life as for the body of work he produced. He died poor at the age of 46, spending what money he had on alcohol.

These quotes are so much more interesting to me when discussed relative to the people who spoke them.

His, this:

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” 

To start any discussion of this quote, I think it's important to figure out what he might have meant by living at all. I highly suspect that it would have been his view that living pertains to those things that occupy the time of people that they would choose, outside of the encumbrances of reality.

By that, I mean, living isn't how you stay alive, but what you enjoy in the process. Extending, this would infer that the vast majority of our time spent as adults in generating income, maintaining our homes, cooking, cleaning and all the other necessary actions aren't truly living in the sense he's discussing. 

I sense that he'd be a work to live, not a live to work kind of guy.

Which is fine, for those people who can relate to a quote like that without thinking it to be a bit presumptuous. Which it is, in reality.

Wilde came from a wealthy family. He eventually died poor, after being cut off from his income stream by those who disapproved of his lifestyle choices, but lived most of his years with a certain level of comfort and cushion. 

With money comes freedom, with freedom comes more opportunity to pursue the things in life that made him happy.

The luxury of time and money comes with the ability to wax poetic about how time should best be occupied.

The truth is that most people (at least the ones I know) don't have enough money or hours in a day to pursue what they want all that often. They have to work to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. They have jobs to do, houses to maintain, meals to cook, and so on and so forth.

That's just reality.

I will say this, though: there are many hours in a day. Not all of them are spent doing what we must. Some of them can be spent doing what we want, subject to the other constraints of life.

I mean, if your passion lies in sailing across the ocean, but your budget only allows you a pedal boat at the local marina once a month, they clearly aren't compatible. You may not be able to live to fullest extent of your imagination, but you can spend the time and money you have on the things that you love that will get you the closest.

Who we are shouldn't be defined by what we do to keep food on the table, but by what we are passionate about.

The world we live in says otherwise and seeks to categorize us, limit us by a label.

The only way to avoid that limitation is to fight to overcome it. Do what you love when you can. Find the time. Find the energy. Find ways to find your joy.

Work isn't life. Don't be so caught up in existing that you forget to live.

Easier said than done, I know, particularly for those of us who aren't already independently wealthy.

When you're on your deathbed, you won't be worried anymore about what kind of car you drove. You'll be worried about what legacy you are leaving to those who knew you, how many lives you touched, how many things you taught others. 

Existing isn't enough, it isn't living.

Work isn't life. The pursuit of money isn't all there is, not by a stretch.

It's just a piece of who we are, the piece that enables us to be whoever we are when we aren't on the clock.

If you love your work, that's a gift. Truly. For most people, it's a paycheck. No more, no less. 

Do what you must so that you are more able do what you love.

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