One's fantasy is another's reality

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

January 18, 2007 Ed Cartoon

The Buried Life is a group of Vancouver students who recently travelled the country building and checking off a list of things to do before dying, while also helping strangers do the same.

Is this an example we should all follow? Or is it a waste of time, the so-called “runaway” generation’s predictable response to real-world responsibilities?

The popular image of youth " often held even by youth themselves " is polarized into two stereotypes. The super-achiever, who has a long list of awards and material accomplishments, is contrasted with the superunderachiever, an apathetic and aimless do-no-gooder.

The Buried Life shows us there is more for youth to aspire to.

We often get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. We lose sight of what’s important to us; the voice of our inner child is drowned out by the buzz of the daily hustle.

Moreover, many of us are trapped by feelings of inadequacy vis-a-vis the expectations of worldly success and wealth imposed on us by society and our elders.

Pursuing a list of goals like the members of The Buried Life did can build character and self-confidence as one realizes achievements that would otherwise seem unrealizable.

Such acts are worthy of pursuit even if they don’t have any utility (in any traditional sense of the word). In fact, in a world obsessed with accumulation and competition, doing something that doesn’t contribute to your market value can be very liberating.

Moreover, stepping out of the box to help others is a good way to escape the “me” plan compelling us to constantly maximize our own happiness. Although hedonistic acts are fulfilling, ones that help others are perhaps nobler and worthier of pursuit.

Some may contend these kinds of acts are escapism or stalling before assuming long-term responsibilities. But this is a narrow outlook. People must define their reality and priorities for themselves, and for some that may be pursuing seemingly impossible goals like climbing Mount Everest.

The Buried Life sets an example for all of us by showing that living life to the fullest is a worthy pursuit and one anyone can do if they set their mind to it.

Setting a list of goals, even outlandish ones, is something everyone should consider. Skydiving, learning a new language, or sampling exotic cuisine can even help you in the job market, since these kinds of pursuits build character and give experience not obtainable in life’s traditional arenas.

Such acts don’t have to be grandiose or “one-shot” pursuits. Any act in which someone steps outside their comfort zone is commendable, and these actions can and should be pursued in the here and now, every day.

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