In the 19th century Alfred Lord Tennyson penned my favorite poem of all time. He teaches us the only way to live life through his main character, Ulysses, an aging king who refuses to spend his waning days idly — rather leaves his throne to his son so he can live the remainder of his days full speed ahead, until his dying breath.
The lesson here is that fame, status, power — even kingship — is too high a price to pay if it costs you one day of experiencing life to its fullest. One senses that this former king likely took his last breath aboard a ship sailing toward some new undiscovered land. I first read this poem as a child of about 12 on a ten-cent poster in a drug store. It brought tears to my eyes then, and it still gives me chills some 40 years later. God help me, this is how I want to live my life — living to the fullest right to the very end.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
Full text of poem: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174659