The life of a university student — your life, perhaps? — is a modern evocation of the nine circles detailed in Dante’s Inferno.
Are you stumbling through the circle of lust as the feeling of loneliness on a campus full of people consumes you? Do you find yourself riddled with greed, incapable of being satisfied with everything you have worked for? Have you become treacherous, a traitor to your kindred, an individual so consumed with moving up in the world that you have torn everything down?
Or maybe the afflictions of a university student are not so morally corrupt. Perhaps Dante should have added a tenth circle: responding to (at least) two peer posts on a weekly discussion board.
How might we endure such drama and injustice? How can the modern university student rise above their primordial tendencies?
Try this: give in to the suffering.
Remember you are dust, and to dust, you shall return. Human existence is so simple and so fleeting, yet we have failed our nature by corrupting human existence into something complicated and insufferable. Afflictions of the mind, body and soul veil our eyes and make life appear as the crux of ancestral sin.
But what if we weren't damned at creation? If we shift the narrative and view human nature, not as a failure but as a triumph of spirit, will life begin to take the form of a true blessing rather than a curse? Even in suffering, there is beauty in living.
The ability to endure trial and tribulation teaches us to exist beyond our bodies and dance with the spirit of the universe living within us. Temporal things cannot sustain our heavenly hosts — take it from Alexander the Great.
The long-dead King of Macedonia’s three dying wishes can actually teach us a lot about living. And not just living, but living stoically, or living without complaint of hardship.
Alexander’s three dying wishes were as follows:
1) My physicians must carry my body alone.
2) I want the path leading to my grave strewn with gold, silver and precious stones that are
in my treasury while my body is being carried to be buried.
3) My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.
These three wishes outline indisputable laws of the human experience.
My physicians must carry my body alone:
The cardinal rule of life is to not take it for granted. Nothing can save you from your own mortality — no physician and no remedy can heal the human condition of being temporary.
In a universe that continues to exist regardless of what humans do, the only thing we can come close to controlling is the way we choose to look at life.
The passing of time is a countdown of the days we have left on this earth, so come hell or high water, fight to make your existence mean something. You only have so many days, so many chances, to be human.
When your heart is breaking, when your thoughts are racing, when your lungs are demanding air: exclaim to the universe “I am human! I am alive! I am here!”
You may be in pain, you may be hurting, and you may feel tortured, but you are, in those moments of weakness, exactly what you were created to be: human.
Embrace it all: the messy; the imperfect and the downright, earth-shattering experiences and feelings that remind us we are alive. Live while you still can.
I want the path leading to my grave strewn with gold, silver and precious stones that are in my treasury while my body is being carried to be buried:
If all you have is material wealth, you have nothing. If all you have is spiritual wealth, you have everything. Fame and fortune cannot cross the eternal divide between this life and the next, so do not live for your vices — live for meaning and lasting purpose.
In the face of adversity, choose virtue. Choose to be courageous, disciplined and relentless in rising above the cards you have been dealt. Your struggles are your own, so own them. Be empowered by your freedom to choose how to act.
My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin:
The chance of you existing is 1 in 400 trillion.
We don’t always know why we exist and the human capacity for darkness can sometimes leave us wishing we didn’t. But the fact that you are reading this right now — the fact that your heart is beating, your lungs are inhaling and exhaling air, and your body is fighting to keep you alive — is nothing short of miraculous when considering the odds.
The most precious gift cannot be held in your hands. Your most precious gift is the time you have been given to spend on this earth.
Stop wasting time pursuing tangible notions of living. Your objects will not follow you in death — only your soul can do that.
And what can you say for your soul? What can you say about the way you live life? What can you say about the person you are?
Rather than pouring energy into external vices, pour energy into yourself. Become a champion of life so that when you reach the end of your days, you don’t find yourself begging for more time.
Do not waste your humanity. Feel everything rather than feeling nothing. The good, the bad and the devastating are all one and the same: reminders that you are a miracle.