Imagine a world where all resources are unlimited. Everything has infinite supplies and free to access like air. Everyone can live forever without aging, disease, injuries, fears, or any forms of constraints.
What would it be like? Do you think it is heaven, or hell?
Life is worth living precisely because it is finite and every resource is limited.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – William Shakespeare
But this is true only if the name is not already loaded with other meanings and the name cannot reflexively influence the entity being named. For the name “rose”, it does not carry any meaning other than a specific breed of flowers that smell sweet. For the entity “rose”, it still smells sweet even if it is named otherwise (such as “dung”).
When it comes to naming, people would be an exact opposite case to roses. People’s names are usually already overloaded with meanings, and names can reflexively influence people’s behaviors and self perceptions. I have an uncle whose first name was “至愚” which roughly translates to *extremely stupid*, and my grandparents told me that it became an excuse (in a funny and joking way though) for my uncle to not perform well in school as a child. (He later changed his name to something better.)
In case you wonder, it is not uncommon for Chinese parents to name their heirs negatively, as the tradition believes that doing so can help avoid devil’s attention. But whatever discretion my grandfather has for that uncle disappeared when he named me “立一”, which roughly translates to *number one*, *the first*, or *the best*. Not a typical name in a culture that observes humility and conformity (and devil’s attention). Probably because of the name or probably because of the expectations, I have been trying to live up to my name since childhood, although unfortunately more on the non-humble/non-conforming side rather than on the being number-one side. And probably because of the devil’s attention, I always have difficulty accomplishing anything other than the best, even if I tried.
Every year during my birthday, I tried to find someone or something to be thankful. In the last few years I thanked my mom for the pain she has to endure to bear and raise me. But this year, I would like to thank the name that was given to me, and the family elders who came up with it. It has guided me well throughout my entire life. Every time I have doubts about myself or need to make hard decisions, my name already reminds me who I am and what I am supposed to do.
Thank you very much for providing all the motivations I need.
I am going to prove you wrong by outperforming whomever you think is better than me.
Life is a (serious) game, so play hard, be triumphant, and (most importantly) have fun. The game is very short and you might only play it once, so do not waste your time.
Recently I read about an interesting point, in the context of usury and debt interest payments under the Catholic and Sharia laws, that life is a loan from God and thus (just like all loans) will have to be repaid one day.
I am not religious but I have found this an interesting mental exercise: if life is indeed a loan and one day we have to pay it back (to God) with principle plus interests, what the latter would be? In other words, what kinds of values do we have to add to our lives (for the sake of interest payments)? For simplicity, let us assume life is like a zero-coupon bond and everything is paid back in the end (of the life).