The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a 2008 movie from David Fincher. They tell the story about a man who ages in reverse.
Thematically, and I am focusing on the movie here, it is a story that touches on loss, perspective, and forgiveness. More pertinent here though, is how it considers acceptance and time.
I referenced last week how I felt I was ‘getting a little taste of a Benjamin Button existence‘. Specifically, I was referencing how I feel I am finding youthful vigour the older I get. Truly, I am enjoying now that which I desired and did not capitalize on in my youth. I think that my current approach to life, and the joy it gives me may have been wasted on me then – where now I can more fully, or at least better enjoy these experiences at this later stage of life. Certainly I take less for granted, and am grateful I have retained my health and better enjoy the means to exploit it now.
There are so many things we can’t control. Aging is one them. Another is how much time we have; in fact, we have no idea how much we have, nor when our time is up.
Sometimes things happen when they are supposed to happen, and not necessarily when we want them to. Although we have to work to create our own ‘best life’, we sometimes have to accept what time, perspective, growth and, maybe, fate present us. Accepting these realities and the strengths and limitations we each have I feel frees us to better make our ‘best life’; easier at least then trying to force or become that which we are not, or perhaps not meant to be.
In my youth I tried music and outdoor pursuits such as climbing and alpine skiing. These activities, however, were not familial nor core pursuits of the friends and influences I had at the time. Well, perhaps music was, but I was a total hack and only now, after years of playing, do I have even a modicum of the requisite skill to be any good.
But over the years and decades I have maintained interest in them and have dabbled. Now these are central to my lifestyle, interests and passions. I know, for me anyway, that I would rather be living these experiences in the ‘here and now’ much more than to have lived them previously and be now only reflecting nostalgically on them from my youth.
In the writing of this post I did some research on the themes from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – both the short story and the movie. In the movie summary at gradesaver.com I took particular note of this phrase;
“Time is only what we believe about it. If we believe it’s too late or too early, either way we’re right.”
It is very similar in nature to a quote by Henry Ford …
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
… however, the aspect of a belief, or perception of Time I don’t think resonates the same with the Ford’s quote. This notion of Time as something we can alter through perception or belief is interesting. Is it qualitative, or quantitative? This is the first consideration that came to me. It is finite, but we each have the same 24 hours in a day. If you accept that our ‘now’ is our only guarantee how does this change your view of Time?
I accept that I am getting older (quantitative), but I do not accept that this is an obstacle to living life as I desire (qualitative). I recognize that nothing beyond this moment, right now, is guaranteed; and therefore I will not surrender to a sedentary nor limited life, regardless the aging that cannot be controlled.
So, I hope you go and live your ‘best life’; don’t wait, this moment is your only guarantee.
“Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature. Love the hand that that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting? – Marcus Aurelius