The term YOLO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 20162 but appears as early as 2011 when Drake, the Canadian singer and hip-hop artist, used it in a famous, excessively profane song.4 A fresh iteration of the ironically timeless “Carpe Diem,” YOLO is as plastic as that term, molding itself to any single person’s perception of the good life. How I employ it reveals my heart priorities, the things I most value, and the dimly apprehended reality that what I believe about tomorrow will necessarily shape how I live today. The deeper and more alarming truth, however, is not that you only live once. You actually live twice, the second time forever. It’s the death that happens once—and how you spend it is the critical factor for how you live not only for evermore, but for now.
This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Anne Kennedy about her online-exclusive article, “You Only Die Once: Why It’s Okay Not to Live in the Present”.
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