My wife — who’s Ukrainian — recently started studying film directing at the UCLA remote learning program. “It felt weird at first,” she recalled, “but then I got joy from not thinking about the war all the time. We were discussing films, analyzing scenes, and for once, the world felt normal.”
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been facing the same dilemma repeatedly. Can I continue living my life as the war — that shows no signs of ending anytime soon — keeps going on? All kinds of distractions felt unworthy. It seemed that the least I could do for my fellow humans was to keep myself in the loop of what was happening in Ukraine.
But as the war continued, one and a half months in, I recalled a phrase from a Soviet soldier in WWII that I overheard in a movie. “War,” said the general to his soldiers standing in the trenches, covered in dirt, “is not just death. It’s also a little life of sorts.”
A little life of sorts.
It’s true that even as horrors happen in the world, lives — our lives — also keep happening. When you’re in combat, your life might end unexpectedly. You’re more privileged when you’re in safety like I am. Either way, whatever the circumstances, the life we have right now — is the only one we’ve got. And while it’s essential to help fellow human beings figure out the truth and take a stand, it’s equally important to remember to live. Whether that’s studying your favourite subject, embarking on a project that you always wanted to start, or becoming the person you’ve always wanted to become — in a way, war does — and should — prioritize life because war makes each life feel particularly precious.
One octogenarian hero from the 70 Over 70 podcast said when asked a question about life wisdom, “The more I age, the more I realize that there are three true words to life, no matter what happens. They are: life goes on.”
Sounds about right.