Now, I’m not talking about the do-stupid-stuff-every-chance-you-get YOLO. I’m talking about the real meaning of the acronym.
YOLO is a shortcut, like WWJD was in the 90s. Those bracelets were a quick, simple way to remember to act like Jesus. Similarly, remembering YOLO helps me make the decision to go on the spontaneous roadtrip, stay up the extra two hours to have a meaningful conversation, or do that thing that I’d “normally never do”—something outside my comfort zone. Because I might not ever have that opportunity again.
I’ve always been a play-it-safer, not one who would typically jump on the whole YOLO train. But I really began to embrace it when I studied abroad. I knew I had to. Like when I gave up sleep to catch a cheap flight to France at three in the morning. Or when I jumped off that 280 foot canyon in Interlaken (evidence here). Or when I ate three cones of gelato in Italy per day for seven days (I mean, I would only be in Italy once, right?). But I’ve lived out YOLO in other times of my life as well, and it’s slowly permeating to all of my life. It’s gotten to the point that I will actually think to myself “YOLO” before doing something I know I should do. Something I might regret not doing in the future.
We really do only get one shot at this Earth thing. And for the most part, that’s a glorious truth. Thank God (literally) we don’t have to stay here forever and that this distorted, fuzzy bit of reality we call life isn’t our real life. But we should still make the most of it while we’re here.
It’s kind of like high school. High school was not my favorite phase. Comparatively, I had it pretty easy and can now look back and say those four years were actually kind of fun. But at the time I knew there was something greater out there: college (not to mention the rest of life), and that made me want to breeze through, no stopping to smell the roses. Luckily, I had wise people in my life telling me to slow down and enjoy the ride, encouraging me to take the fun classes, invest in people, and always do my best. Though I knew high school wasn’t the end goal, I also knew there’d never be another season of life like it. I had one chance at it, and I’d carry the memories I made for the rest of my life.
So it goes on Earth. This world is not what we should live for, but we should still live it. Though you won’t want to go back to Earth when you’re with Jesus (just like heaven knows I don’t want to go back to high school…), you’ll still be able to look back at how you spent your earthly quotas of time and love and thought. And you’ll decide if they were well spent.
Like Eminem says (yes, I’m quoting Eminem), “You only get one shot.” You only get one shot to go on that camping trip. To ask the drive-thru lady how she’s doing and maybe make her day. One shot to camp out all night at Chick-fil-A with near strangers and win thirty free coupons (not speaking from personal experience or anything…). One shot to get to know that visitor at church and maybe learn something from him or her. To write that note of encouragement during a friend’s time of need. One shot. So seize it.
Because you only live once.