I was struck recently, by a bit of profundity in the oddest of places. Twitter, as you may know, is a “micro-blogging” system that allows you to post thoughts of at most 140 characters. It sounds like thoroughly pointless technology, but it was there that I found this:
so many different ways i could have lived this day. but i lived it just like this. and i suppose in that way – it was perfect.
“The perfect day” is a topic that people get fixated on a lot. They imagine what they would do if they suddenly knew–with a certainty all but impossible in real life–that they had 24 hours to live. Variations on the theme generally involve eating great food, keeping great company, and doing great things.
And simply, I think it’s absurd. This exercise is valuable only to the extent that it educates the listener about what the speaker believes to be the best things on earth. Maybe it’s Japan. Maybe it’s pastrami on rye. Maybe it drawing without getting distracted. Maybe it’s watching the sunset as many times as you can. But though these things are interesting to know, they don’t help us better understand our lives and our living of them.
Because this game involves no compromises; life is about compromise.
Though I used to hope to live a life without regrets or compromises, I now recognize that it’s much better to hope to never regret my compromises.
Very few, if even the hyper-rich, can afford to live without compromises. You can have your dream job, but it’ll probably require you to compromise on the city and social-scene of your dreams. You may be able to spend your life with the love of your life, but you’ll probably have to give up your chance at your dream job.
And this is no less true about the mundanities of life. Though you may abhor the thought, eating McDonald’s is sometimes the best way to satiate your growling stomach and get back to the office in time for a meeting. Some times you’ll have to miss the night out with friends to finally do the project that you’ve put off far too long.
It’s nice to think that we can live each day as if it were our last. To be able to spend all our time doing work we love in a place we love, eating food we love with people we love. But that simply isn’t possible. It was never possible, and quite possibly, it’ll never be possible.
But sometimes the compromises themselves, in their unexpected serendipity, their accidental profundity, or their unlikely beauty, work out better than our dreams. And I’m not sure a day or a life can be more perfect than that.