Roger Scruton wrote a letter to James Harmon for his book, Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation From People Who Know a Thing or Two, and in his letter he discusses living a life that is meaningful. In a thought experiment Scruton asks the reader to imagine their death with one of two scenarios. In the first, you imagine that you have a lived a life full of instant pleasures, but you have not made a deep impact on the lives of others. In the second you have left a legacy not of instant pleasures, but of character and deeds that are treasured by those who were close to you. Scruton writes, “you will come to see that there are worse things than death, and that, in the end, death is not the most grievous of your losses. Far worse is to live too long, clinging to a life that has lost its enchantment.” This quote caps off the thought experiment, and leaves us at a place where we can consider exactly what the value of our lives should be.
This quote speaks to me about the importance of putting others first to develop meaningful relationships that will last longer than my life. Scruton is encouraging us to make difficult decisions that will lead others to trust us, feel more open and closer to us, and want to build meaningful relationships with us. I believe that this is the first step in living a life that is not monotonous and bland. By actively involving others in our lives, we will open new doors and possibilities for ourselves. In turn this will lead to building lives that remain interesting and exciting as we age.