Our Unlived Lives

“There is always what will turn out to be the life we led, and the life that accompanied it, the parallel life (or lives) that never actually happened, that we lived in our minds, the wished-for life (or lives): the risks untaken and the opportunities avoided or unprovided. We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason – and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find and give the reason – they were not possible.  And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives.  Indeed, our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum, about the lives we were unable to live.  But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are.”

~ Adam Phillips, from Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life


See also: "Rethinking Freud," On Being, July 27, 2014