"In the long run we are all dead" is not as depressing of a quote as it seems

This is a Blogapalooz submission for November. Each month the ChicagoNow bloggers are challenged with a topic and have exactly an hour to write and publish. Tonight’s topic is share your favorite quote (or quotes) — from a philosopher, author, comedian, politician, friend, family member, movie, whoever — and write in detail about why it resonates and has meaning for you.

Please forgive me from your grave John Maynard Keynes, because once again I am going to take one of your quotes out of context as I have done for the past 20 years.

In “A Tract for Monetary Reform” you wrote:

“The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.

I think I first came across that quote in Economics 101 where the majority of lectures were spent on learning your introductory Keynesian concepts including aggregate demand especially in the short run. I loved this quote then and even used it in my senior year yearbook page layout. Every senior got a page to design all on her own and I chose to give up precious photo space for you. It made sense to me. After all, I was an Economics major.

Back in college, there were certainly times I lived like the long run didn’t exist. I explored interesting relationships, almost got married, partied like it was 1999 in 1996, played around in Germany for a semester, tested myself academically and so much more. Why not?

For a time it was easy to lose sight of this because there was so much planning to do. Shaping a career and planning for a family are both by nature tasks that require looking out into the horizon, the long run.

These days though now that I have crossed over into my 40s, I am increasingly aware that, yeah I won’t be here in the long run so I better make today count. My recent mammogram callback incident made me acutely aware of that fact you so eloquently stated 92 years ago.

So, these days, I make the short run count and try to experience as much as I can while I can. Lately, that has taken on a variety of shapes and forms, such heading out to the Morton Arboretum for a quick walk. Those leaves were beautiful that day and the wind was actually kind and warm for a change.

It means dropping everything to satisfy a cinnamon bun craving at the coffee shop in town. Sometimes the ones on the counter are warm right out of the oven. Those are the best.

It sometimes means trying a new beer or wine, just because.  Yeah, that Domaine DuPage Country French Ale was pretty tasty.

It means going on day trips to the city, relaxing with a book because I feel like it, and even screaming my head off at a weekend concert.

It even means not even thinking twice about packing up and moving halfway across the country without hesitation. What an amazing experience that is turning out to be.

So I say, thank you John for teaching me to live in the moment for the moment. Because tomorrow could be the long run and I want to be able to have lived life more richly, more deeply. Thanks to your guidance, I am.




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