Aby Warburg, an internationally known early twentieth century art critic and a member of the famous Warburg banking family, was once quoted as saying, "Plan each day as if you were going to live forever and live each day as if you were going to die by days end."
While reflecting on this interesting quote, it ocurred to me that many Americans plan and live their lives in the exact opposite manner. Most seem to live each day as if they were going to live forever, and plan each day as if they were going to die by days end.
It appears Americans generally believe they can live each day without a care for tomorrow, as if what they do will not effect their longevity.
Statistics show that one-third of Americans are over weight. We are increasingly eating more fat in our diet today than we have in years, despite all the low fat food on grocery shelves and the knowledge that a high fat diet is dangerous to our health. Thirty percent of Americans smoke despite the well documented list of serious consequences, such as premature disease and death.
Only forty percent of us do any form of regular physical activity at work or play, making the remaining sixty percent of Americans "couch potatoes". This, too, despite overwhelming evidence that regular exercise can reduce heart disease, as well as make us feel better about ourselves and our lives.
We drink too much, drive to fast, refuse to buckle-up and avoid periodic, sensible medical check-ups to fine tune our health status. In addition, we buy too much on credit, save less money than others in industrialized countries and are not seriously considering our days of retirement. In other words, we do very little to ensure ourselves long, healthy, productive lives.
On the other hand, we often plan our days as if it might be our last!
We have bought in large numbers, day planners in the form of computers and calendars, beepers, cellular phones and the like, regimenting, organizing and structuring our daily lives at the expense of spontaneity and awareness.
While some planning at work is important, we have gone too far in our desire to control our day-to-day activities, and have extended this planning to includes activities at play as well. We go through our days often without any thought other than the task before us, similar to those car rides along familiar roadways, realizing we have arrived at our destination, but unable to remember the drive itself.
We have minimized the spontaneous happenings of our lives and have had our attention so focused on where we were suppose to be at a certain time, and what we were to do next that we have failed to experience and appreciate the wonders of life around us.
We fail to smell flowers, taste flavors, feel textures, sense the wind, or witness the sun rising and setting. How often do we stop and reflect on how lucky we are to be alive and to be a part of this incredible experience of life! Even at rest and play our lives seem oftentime too structured and regimented. No wonder Americans are fatigued and need a vacation when they return home from their vacation.
Warburg was right. We should plan each day as if we are going to live forever and live each day as if it were our last. That way, despite not living forever, it will at least seem that we have.