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Henry Van Dyke discusses the experience of living life to the fullest in the poem. It is often said that you only live once. But sometimes human beings are caught in the dilemma of achieving more success, and hence tend to ignore the most important aspect - Living. There is a difference between merely existing and living one's life. Existing just involves breathing, eating, and going about one's work without putting heart and soul in it. Living means that one moves and acts with extreme awareness and mindfulness. Living means pursuing the joy of the world and accepting the sorrows. Van Dyke says that he wants to live life from year to year, indicating that he wants to take life one thing at a time. Oftentimes we overwhelm ourselves thinking of what will happen in the future. Van Dyke knows that there is no use brooding over things that cannot be controlled. He says that he wants to take life by being in the moment. He does not want to think about the following year, rather wants first to live the current year.
One thing at a time
Van Dyke says that he would face life every year, with a forward face and unreluctant soul. This indicates that he believes that one must have the confidence and determination to face life, no matter what it throws at them. One must not be reluctant to test and experience the joys of life. He says that he is in no hurry to reach his goal, but at the same time is not distracted or moving away from his vision. It is important for us to know and determine our goals but not become overwhelmed or greedy in the process. In short, the journey is more important than the destination. One must learn to stop and admire the beauty through the journey. He does not mourn the loss of the things that he has lost in the past. He calls the past dim, as with every passing new day, the past fades away, and one must fully participate in the present. There is no use crying over spoiled milk, and the lost things teach us life lessons. One must learn from loss but not be immersed in it.
There is no use mourning the dim past
Oftentimes people do not take chances in life due to fear. When one takes a risk, there are only two possible outcomes. Either it can succeed, or it can fail. But the probability of failing makes people refrain from taking chances and makes them feel that it is better to stay in their comfort spaces. Dyke says that one must not hold back in fear of what the future holds for them. The future veils what it has in stock for each of us, but that is the entire essence of life, as it would be boring to know the future. The poet wants us to have a happy heart and live a life wholly, without worries, staying in the moment. He wants each individual to have a heart that embraces youth and old age equally and not get frustrated with it, as these are things beyond control. He wants people to travel the journey of life with cheer as life does not stop for anyone.
The poet says that one must handle both ups and downs that life offers for us. In the journey of life, everything is uncertain. One cannot wake up one fine day and decide that one are going to have a good day or a bad day. The way can take us, either up the hill or down the hill, but what matters is showing up the confidence to walk towards the hill and take the first step. The journey can  either be rough or smooth. When it is rough, one should never forget that the path will get smoother in the coming days. It is up to the individual to make it a joyful journey irrespective of the difficulty in the path.
The journey will be joy
The poet says that he is still seeking what he sought when he was a boy. When one is young, one is more prone to have great dreams. They do not apply logic or practicality when it comes to desires and passions. From wanting a unicorn to travelling the world, dreams do not have any limitations when one is young. When one grows up, one desires materialistic possessions. Adulthood can be stressful as one thinks of getting settled, having a problem-free work/life balance etc. But as a boy, the poet says, one only dreams of trivial and simple things such as new friendships and high adventure. Having good friends and making memories was the most important thing in one's life as a child. The poet talks about a crown which could mean two things, either that he wanted a crown to feel like he was at the top of the world or a crown coin that has least value. The poet says that  his heart will have the courage to keep on going in his quest for life, irrespective of the obstacles. He will have hope that although things might go down a rough road, the last turn will be the best. The last turn is uncertain, but he has hopes that it might yield  a positive result.