The only thing actually real is the now, and human lives are exceedingly short. One day we’ll look back on our past activities to see how we’ve lived our lives and garner if we’ve spent them well or ill. In that moment, all past life is compressed to nothing more than a narrative, the more interesting events reduced to chapters or mentions and the less interesting ones forgotten entirely.
That said, plan to write the best story you can. Plan to write a story you’ll be proud to look back on. Don’t think of the legacy you’ll leave for others—think of the legacy you’ll leave for yourself. If your life flashed before your eyes in impending doom, what would you remember? Would you remember anything at all? Some of us have pretty empty tales.
Use that test to determine if your life is full of empty pastimes and cheap thrills, or if you’re collecting memories that will fill a beloved treasury of adventures.
Consider yourself as the hero in your own story. Are you worthy of that title? What would your story’s hero do in the situation you are in? Shouldn’t you be doing that? You can’t expect to be in a hero’s scenario, but shouldn’t you be taking a hero’s actions? Following in a hero’s footsteps?
Don’t use this idea as an excuse to live in the past either—if you’re living in the past you’ve stopped making adventures, and why have fewer adventures when you can have more?
You only get one shot at this life. Don’t play it safe—be exceptional.