Charlie's Blog: You Only Live Twice

1.23.2015

You Only Live Twice


You only live twice:
Once when you're born
And once when you look death in the face.
IAN FLEMING

There is an acronym that has become popular and annoying. That acronym is YOLO which stands for "You Only Live Once." As short and as stupid as that acronym may be, it represents the tip of a large philosophical iceberg. It is nothing new since it is another rendition of the "Carpe Diem" phrase made popular in the the movie Dead Poet's Society. The gist of the philosophy is that nothing matters in this life except that you live it up. The converse is that you will only have regrets if you don't live it up. I cannot fathom how anyone could regret anything in the non-existence of atheistic death. It is only in the afterlife that you can have regrets about this life, and I doubt one of those regrets will be turning down depraved sex with those two nymphomaniacs at that crazy college party.

As a Christian, I believe that you only live twice. Everything you do in this life has some bearing on the next life. When I think of the phrase "you only live twice," I recall this as one of the titles that Ian Fleming used for one of his James Bond novels. I don't know if Fleming was a religious man at anytime in his life, but I can say that James Bond would have never turned down depraved sex with two nymphomaniacs. But what we can also say about James Bond is that he was a man possessed of a certain kind of honor. Granted, he is a man given to the vices of the flesh, but you have to admit that he also risked his life and defied death often for the sake of queen and country. When Fleming speaks of that second life when you look death in the face, it is to recall those times when you either lived or failed to live up to that sense of honor in yourself. In this purely worldly sense, we see that we will never regret vices forsaken but virtues unattained. If someone decidedly non-religious can see that we live twice, we can agree that YOLO is stupid.


The central issue here is the issue of regret. What are our regrets in life going to be? Many tales from deathbeds never include those nymphomaniacs in the list of regrets. The list is made up of the usual about being true to yourself, loving people more, spending less time at work, and on and on. If you wonder if you will have regrets on your deathbed, let me settle it for you. You will. No one has a perfect life.

There is only one way to not have regret about this life, and that is to believe that you will live twice. This is the Christian sense and not the Ian Fleming sense. I am fond of telling people that it doesn't matter where you start but where you finish. Life is messy, and it never turns out the way you planned it. But as long you arrive in Heaven, you have done well. That is the essence of the Gospel. Your past has not irrevocably damaged your future. God can take the worst you have done and turn it to His good. The only true regret is to not pursue what God offers you.

Both St. Peter and Judas Iscariot were guilty of the same sin. They both betrayed our Lord. Yet, we know that St. Peter finished in Heaven. I cannot say where Judas Iscariot ended without committing the sin of presumption. I will simply quote our Lord in Matthew 26;24 when He says, "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." The difference between St. Peter and Judas is that Peter was not consumed by regret. Judas was consumed by regret and killed himself. If there is a tip to glean from this, it is to let the Lord have the last word on your life. He will be much fairer to you than you will be to yourself.

I believe you only live twice. This informs all my decisions. If I believed I only lived once, I might escape God's judgment, but I will never be able to escape my own judgment of myself. If I believed I lived many times like some Buddhist or Hindu, life would become nothing but an endless cycle of rebirth and death with no escape. But I will only live twice with the second life being the only one that matters. The only regret I can have in this life is to believe the folly that you only live once.