I only became aware with this phrase this past year. I never thought much of it; just another thing that has somehow became a fad among today’s youth. Then when I was thinking about what to write for this post, the word came to mind.
You only live once. Said in situations when your friends are trying to convince you to do something.
Huh? Why bother? Why should they (or we—maybe we’re the ones “yolo-ing”) care whether or not someone else does or doesn’t do something?
Looking out for others, believe it or not, is part of our nature. We intrinsically desire others (people around us, family, friends, even complete strangers) to live life in a good way. When we say “Yolo!”, we’re telling our friends to live life to its fullest.
Let me try to explain what I mean.
You’re standing at the edge of a 30 foot cliff. There’s water at the bottom, cool and deep and deliciously refreshing for the 30 degree weather you’re sweltering in. You really wanna jump in, but you also really don’t. Maybe you’re scared of heights, or maybe you don’t like falling through the air. Whatever it is, something is holding you back from taking the jump. Beside you, a friend suddenly says invitingly “Yolo!” and jumps in. Next thing you know, you’re flying down through the air towards the water. Trees are soaring through your vision and you feel the absolutely exhilarating—but frightening—freedom of nothing solid beneath your feet. You hit the pool and satisfyingly sink three feet down, water swirling up past you in little bubbles. When you come up and take a deep breath of the warm flower-scented summer day, you know it was worth it. You jumped (literally) at the chance to something thrilling. You’re enjoying your life.
You find yourself yolo-ing the next person at the top of the cliff before you jump in again. You have realized that life is exciting. You’re full of joy—you’re living life to its fullest! And you want to make others realize just how stimulating life is when lived in this way.
So, why wait? Go tell everyone else to jump in, too!
Have you ever noticed that it’s the little things that really make us happy? Those very, very little everyday things that make us feel good to be alive. Things like listening to good music while taking a road trip on a sunny day with a Timmie’s in your hand. Things like curling up with a hot mug of tea or hot chocolate on a rainy day with a good book. Things like sitting by the fire on a cold winter’s day. Things like walking under the fiery trees in the fall with a good friend. Doing school on your bed and listening to your favourite radio station. Having a good conversation with a friend. And every now and then something a little more daring like jumping off a cliff.
We need to enjoy life. We can’t just sit by and forget how to enjoy simple pleasures.
But life goes even further. Remember how I said it’s part of human nature to look out for others? We want to say “Yolo”. We want others to enjoy life, too. Which means we want people to have a chance to enjoy life.
You’re back at the top of the cliff. But this time it’s a different cliff. There’s still a drop below you, but you can’t see much about it. You don’t even know how far down it goes. It’s dark and murky—there’s a faint mist swirling around your eyes that makes it even more difficult to see. From the bottom you can hear a sound. You realize it’s a whimper. You feel the need to go down and help whoever’s down there. But it’s scary, man. Really. Scary.
But you remember your jump from the other cliff. You remember the exhilaration you felt while you were jumping. This is a different jump, a different cliff, but you somehow realize that your first jump won’t mean as much if you don’t make this jump. And there’s someone down there, waiting for the chance to enjoy life as much as you do. Can you leave?
Take the plunge! Dive in! Sure it’s scary, but, man, is it worth it!
Part of living life to its fullest is encouraging others to do the same. If you don’t, you’re hogging life and stealing joy. What if someone had decided to not give you the little encouragement you need to have joy? What if someone hadn’t shared their chocolate cake with you? You’d probably be hurt, and feeling left out. And honestly, at least some of the time, homeschoolers have to deal with feeling left out. Think of the time the schooler looked at you funny because you were different and excluded you from the conversation. What if they had just smiled and beckoned you in?
So don’t let anyone feel left out. Life is a joy! Share your joy! Share your life!
And who really needs your joy?
Expectant mothers. And their children.
So many children are denied the chance to feel joy. So you—we—need to give them that chance. Remember that I said part of living life to its fullest is encouraging others to do the same?
The more you share, the more you have. I know, clichéd. But true.
So go on. Help those little babies and their mothers to have joy, to live!
Yolo! Now’s your chance!