The way he spoke revealed that he was a man who didn’t waste his time. He must have been constantly productive, constantly learning something. How else could he know so much about so many things at just 27 years old? I wondered if I too would know that much a few years down the road. Did I already sound like that when I spoke? He must not have wasted a single hour in his life feeling sick from drinking too much coffee or eating too much chocolate or any other remarkably flagrant waste of time.
He’d clearly experienced life in all its richness. Experience can’t be faked. There is a nuance separating theoretical knowledge and the wisdom that comes exclusively from lived experience. I instantly admired him, and it seemed to me that the letters in his name were so similar to the word “admire” because they were one in the same; perhaps to be him was to be admired.
It seemed he could speak for hours about his favorite things—his favorite movies, his favorite books, his favorite cities, and his favorite foods. Suddenly, I wanted to have favorites too. Favorite music, favorite restaurants, favorite places, and favorite people. The word itself oozed with experience.
To have favorites presupposed a great deal and variety of adventures—favorites meant you had been out there living, testing the waters. And perhaps that was what I wanted more than the favorites themselves: a sense of having lived my life with a collection of experiences suitable and maybe beyond what would match my years. I yearned to have been not everywhere but somewhere, to have tasted not everything but some things, enough to form my very own palate. Perhaps I didn’t really care to boast about my love for authentic Belgian chocolate or to bemoan the pain of climbing the Eiffel tower like he did. Perhaps all I cared for was to step outside of my mind, outside of these walls—far enough to venture into the unknown, far enough to get lost, far enough to risk it all.
Listening to him talk about his adventures was otherworldly. He was so aggressively curious, so powerfully present. When he was speaking with you, you had his undivided attention, as if he was wasting no mental resources elsewhere but where he was right then and there. I somehow always felt like part of me was five miles away, crunching the data of this moment to predict or prepare for the next. Perhaps living in the present requires a sort of confidence that we will be able to handle the future; perhaps the less threatened we feel we may be at some future time, the more we can occupy wherever we already are.
And I suppose the only way to amass experience is to live urgently, to live as if your life depends on it, to leave no stone unturned and until no risk remains to be taken. To live as though this moment is all there will ever be, not in anticipation of the next or in remorse for the last, but to live for living’s sake, because we are here now and the “now” is all there will ever be.