Dear Lana,

What happens when we get older? At the end of our life, which gives out first — or body or or soul?

I remember when in my positive psychology class, I learned that people’s life satisfaction generally improves as they age. I certainly hope that’s true, although I can’t really imagine why that would be the case. As a young professional straight out of undergrad, a lot of my energy is developed into furthering my career. The return on investment in education is greatest when you have the most amount of time to gain from it, and this is particularly true when access to learning is almost unlimited given the internet.

In Chinese culture, children usually take their parents in when they get older. I have no idea what non-Chinese-Americans do, but I find it quite tragic that there could be a world where parents and children don’t enter a permanent arrangement for life.

Is fulfilment attained in retrospect? How could we possibly know how fulfilled we will be in the long run? We can only access the past through our memories. Yet, this past is subject to our selective perception. I was thinking how St. Augustine characterized time as being only present, how the past and future are just our minds making sense of our memories and expectations. I also recall from the time I used to go to church, a pastor once said that regret is sin because it detracts our attention from worshipping the Lord. I don’t think I ever found that justification compelling. I’m still not sure how to evaluate the ethics of reminiscing. My therapist said that regret-orientation was a symptom of depression, but I’m not sure that it’s the same thing as feeling nostalgia.

You truly are young only once. I used to think I wasted my youth, but I realize now that I was just being too hard on myself. I consider my life before college characterized by a lack of free will, and my time during college to cultivate a desire for free will. In the true Sartrean sense, I convinced myself I did not have free will to subdue responsibility from my life that does have free will. I am still convinced to a certain extent that all life is necessitarianly deterministic, but it’s a thought that I have shelved for now until I find an argument for free will that I am truly convinced of. In the meantime, I can accept that I do have control over my life.

When I think of my life in these buckets, that’s what I imagine “coming to age” feels like. There were a lot of realizations I had in the past couple of years. I no longer idealize the image of sadness, I no longer shy away from having responsibility. I no longer feel the need to be social beyond beyond what I want at the moment. Through these realizations, I see the past couple years of my life as formative. I’m not sure what my life would be like if those years didn’t happen, but I don’t see the need either. The present is now, and there is only the present. The future does not exist. The past does not exist. Except in the mind.