“This is the true joy in life: The being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die—for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
—George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)
Irish writer George Bernard Shaw worked into his nineties as a brilliant dramatist, literary critic, lecturer, music and theater critic, and essayist on every subject imaginable. He won and refused the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925 and is perhaps best remembered for his play, Pygmalion, from which My Fair Lady was adapted.
I was ten years old when Shaw died, and I still remember reading about his passing. I seem always to have been attracted to his life philosophy. He promotes the idea of seeing our lives as naturally purposeful. The dynamic and witty philosopher expresses his enormous enthusiasm for life and encourages us to embrace a comparable attitude and enjoy life as if our being is a force of nature.
I love the idea of being thoroughly used up when we die. To me this means not having thoughts that keep us immobilized or in any way removed from our own heroic mission. It means absolutely refusing to think and act in any way that denies that we are here for a purpose. It means that you are not going to die with your music still in you!