Soren Kierkegaard is one of my favorite writers ever. His wit was razor sharp, he was painfully deep, and his passion for life was breathtaking. Though most people don’t really know who he is – mostly because his name has been carelessly lumped into the pile with other philosophers, something which he did not consider himself – every person living in the west believes certain things about religion, god, and faith because Kierkegaard believed it and wrote about it. He left a deep footprint in the terrain of humanity, even if most can’t tell whose footprint it is. In many ways, that footprint is so large we can’t even see it – we’re standing in it.
Another king of thinkers, Friedrich Nietzsche, called deep thinking wandering in the forbidden, and while Kierkegaard was making his trek through the dark, seductive woods of human existence, it became clear to him that the deepest personal attachment in his life to his fiance’, Regina Olsen, despite the happiness it brought him, was a fetter restraining him from his art of reforming and remaking the crumbling world around him. Upon this revelation, with fear and trembling, he broke the fetter and was freed, crying and bleeding, to leave those great footprints.
While some of us more than others will be faced with the fearsome opportunity to let go of what we love to seek we must – or otherwise live tiny, smiling, blase’ lives of happiness – Soren’s life can serve as a picture, from beginning to end, of that choice well-made. I’ve chosen to make similar choices, and often I’ve chosen the smaller, more palatable thing. For those of us who desire – or at least desire to desire – the greater thing, I think that Kierkegaard’s life can serve as an icon of the painful, beautiful, passionate, well-lived life of no regrets.