women living
Editorial

Editorial: Life is for the living

Rush less and value the present more, advises Tascha von Uexkull.

In a society obsessed with youth, it can be hard to shake the feeling that being young is an ideal state and getting older is something to be feared and hidden. In the media, retouched images ensure we are sheltered from the realities of ageing – the wrinkles of life slip away. 

The state of youth is becoming shorter too. At 26, I am no longer considered a ‘young person’ in various walks of life. Life feels like a race to the finish line and it’s preferable you reach that line before your twenties or you’re definitely not on track.

 

But the truth is, the more you rush to achieve goals, the more you miss out on the living part of life.

 

As the wonderful English art historian and writer Roy Strong reflects on a simple encounter with close friends, ‘life is for the living’. In other words, it’s not for worrying and projecting forward in time, but actually being present in what we are experiencing, even if it seems mundane.

Whilst an aimless conversation with a relative or friend may not amount to a tick on your ‘to do’ list or a sense of achievement, people can measure value in very different ways and the seemingly unimportant can be a lot more valuable than we might think. 

I used to tell my father about my friends and, being accustomed to a world of fundraising and people-pleasing, he’d always ask what value they gave to me. I wouldn’t know how to reply. I’d know it was unlikely they would ever give me something of monetary value, a job for instance, and yet (of course) I knew how utterly unimportant this was.

They were ‘valuable’ to me in that they gave me things I couldn’t concretely describe: the gift of being listened to and understood, the ability to sit in silence and feel comforted … amongst a myriad of other things.

Yesterday, as a car whisked me through the countryside, I caught myself worrying about the moment of arrival. Then I remembered, I hadn’t arrived yet. I had time to look outside the window, there is always time to look outside the window.

 

This week, our writers provide us with rich wisdom on how to put our worrying mind to one side and be present, taking action for a better world even when situations seem hopeless.

 

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Tascha von Uexkull is a writer, creative, and workshop facilitator based in London who has worked in a variety of museums since reading English Literature and History of Art at the University of York. She is passionate about the importance of opening up the creative industries to young people and formed her own youth collective called Assemblage over the first lockdown. Her favourite thing to do is to explore London by foot before settling down with a notebook in a cosy café.

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