A Day Is a Life
Set your sights on the horizon, and sail toward fulfillment.
Garrett Kincaid – June 18, 2023
I often think about how I hope to feel on my deathbed. What memories will spring to mind? I’m sure I’ll daydream about my many adventures; but more, I’ll recall mundane moments made miraculous by magical people. Will I be proud of myself? I’m sure I’ll recount my greatest accomplishments, but I doubt I’ll measure my success by any material metric — salary, net worth, bench press, or BMI.
Fulfilled is, in a word, how I hope to feel. Fulfillment is the ideal. But it isn’t about how people will see me or about my legacy. Fulfillment is a felt, unquantifiable, immaterial metric best approximated by the answer to an impossible question: Am I ready to die?
An ideal is an aim that is approachable but unattainable; it is a singular point on the horizon. And the only way to pursue an ideal is to break it up into step-sized segments, like the zig-zagging path of a sailboat that trends due west across the sea.
If I ask, What can I do with my life so that I am fulfilled upon death?, the ideal remains obscured and distant, as if I’m sailing in a dense fog. But if I ask, What would I do today if it were how I’d spend the rest of my life?, the ideal becomes approachable. The fog clears. I think about who I should call, how I’ll workout, what book I should read, when I should meditate, and what I should write about. By looking at today instead of at life, I can steer toward fulfillment.
I could hate that I have not arrived, or I could accept that I will never arrive. That’s the nature of an ideal. I will never reach fulfillment, but I can get closer every day; I can approach it. With that mindset, each day becomes an intentional step toward a single point on the horizon, and if I veer off course, I can always adjust my heading.
How I hope to feel about my life, before I die, is how I should aim to feel about today, before I fall asleep. I should treat every day as a life and sleep as practice for death.
What if I filled today with the life-content to which I aspire? And what if, tonight, I did not long for more of the day and found comfort in what I’d done, even without the promise of tomorrow? I wouldn’t be ready to die, but I would be ready to sleep. I would lay to rest with the blissful thought of today having been abundant, sufficient, and I would be one step closer to fulfillment.
This short-form piece was originally published on my Substack, The Intronaut. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing.