Are You Living, or Are You Existing? [Teen Article]

Shannon is a 16 year old from Maryland. She enjoys writing, is pro recycling, and is completely smitten with Edward Cullen.

Have you ever thought about it? What is human life really worth?

We’re born, we live, we die.

Once you’re gone the world will forget you. The Earth continues to rotate on its axis, the sun still rises, and people move on. Like the ocean laps at the shore, washing it clean, you too will be erased.

Humans have this terrible obsession with the future. It feels like everything we do now is to help us get somewhere later. Elementary school prepares us for middle school, middle school prepares us for high school, high school prepares us for college, and college prepares us for the “Real World.” That’s at least seventeen years of your life right there—mapped out, scheduled, planned in advance—with the goal of getting you somewhere else, some unknown destination out in the “Real World” where life official starts.

We live so much for tomorrow that we forget about today.

So what happens if tomorrow never comes? If you don’t wake up? If you don’t make it to next month, or next week? What then?

If life ended this moment, would you be satisfied with what you’ve completed so far?
Did you you do anything fulfilling? Anything meaningful? Anything memorable?

If you asked yourself—
Who do you live for?
When was the last time you laughed?
How often do you smile?
Have you told the people you love most exactly what they mean to you?
Are you happy? And not the snapshot, commercial happy that lasts for a moment and then fades away, but the brilliant-smile, laugh-till-your-sides-ache, genuine happy that radiates from the very core of        your being, infecting those around you with the same genial emotion.
Have you loved? Have you lived?
—could you respond honestly and be satisfied with your answers?

I’m approaching my seventeenth year of life in March. That’s 6,205 days, 148,920 hours, 893,5200 minutes, my heart has been beating, and I haven’t experienced half of the things I want to yet. Sometimes it feels like life is slipping through my fingers and I’m doing nothing about it.

I spend hours in school–studying facts, memorizing formulas, reading literature that I don’t like or understand. And that’s all well and good, but at the end of the day, what does it all mean? Anything? Do I let it define me or is it the other way around? Does it shape the person I am and the person I’m becoming? Does it give my life meaning?

So many questions, and I sit here without a solution manual.

I don’t know, maybe it’s not so much how long we’ve lived, but our quality of life during that time period; not how much we’ve accomplished, but if those accomplishments allow us to look ourselves in the mirror and feel satisfied with who we see.

I think if you can do that, then you’re doing pretty alright.

No Responses to “Are You Living, or Are You Existing? [Teen Article]”

  1. Kathy Sena
    February 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    Shannon, I can hardly believe this was written by someone 16 years old. You are a terrific writer. And you really have something important to say. Just that fact that you can share your thoughts so beautifully at this age means you are already contributing a great deal to the world. I hope that makes you happy and brings you fulfillment.

    I have created a life that I love because I had a love of writing as a teenager and I followed my heart. I am now the mom of a teenager, and I would be so happy for him to find what he really loves and to go after it with all his heart.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, asking important questions, and sharing your thoughts. You have so much to contribute to this world.

  2. Shirley
    February 25, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

    Shannon-this is great. It really is true that we need to live in the moment. I do understand the future is important and we should be thinking of it in what we do, but living in the NOW is important. Have you read any Eckardt Tolle?
    I”m working on the book and believe it is on the lines of what you wrote about today.

    When I was 16 I think I was only concerned with what I needed to do to get me somewhere. Now I am here-whatever that means.

    Thanks for shairng-it’s great!

Leave a Reply