5 years ago around this time, my friend from high school and college was killed.
2.5 years ago, my friend from college died from a strenuous workout while on the UC Berkeley football team.
2 months ago while I was in Athens, my friend from my summer internship in college passed away while fighting for his life in the hospital.
I don’t really have the right words. It still saddens me that they’re gone and that they died so young. They never even reached their mid-20’s. Whenever I think of them, I am heartbroken, and I’m reminded of how short life really is. All of them were beautiful souls, and I had nothing but positive opinions and unique, happy memories with each of them. The fact that the most unfortunate things can happen to such good people is terrifying. R.I.P. Diane Kwon, Ted Agu, and Michael Kung.
Death is our inevitable fate, but a lot of times we forget it is so. It can be a good thing or bad thing not having to constantly realize our ending. The good thing about recognizing our fate, however, is that it keeps us grateful for life. If we lived forever, we might not value the experiences and moments we go through. But when we see how fleeting our lives are, we can stop and appreciate the moments, the people in our lives, and the little things like the beautiful blue of the sky or the blossoms in the spring.
What Really Matters
When you realize your ending, all the bullshit disappears. It’s hard to constantly keep a grateful mentality, but if you actively practice it and remind yourself how short life is, you’ll realize:
- When you’re on your deathbed, you’re not going to reflect on all the material possessions you bought.
- Looks fade – don’t be surprised when you look like shit in 40 years.
- Living a life trying to impress others gives you less time to live for yourself.
- If you’re continuously working for money to no end, you might realize you didn’t capitalize on the most important currency: time.
Once you strip away these superficialities, you’re left with:
- Your true self
- Your values and dreams
- Your friends and family
Death puts into perspective of what really matters.
The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying
You may have already heard of this. But a nurse recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and these were the top 5:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
A lot of stuff that you thought mattered, doesn’t. What other people think of you, how people would react if you expressed your opinions or didn’t have a job with high status…none of this matters. Even the failures, rejection, and embarrassment you may have faced in the past…none of this matters. The 5 regrets reaffirm the previously mentioned that all the bullshit fades when death is factored in.
Your Reality is Your Choice
I say we need to adjust ourselves if we’re experiencing the following:
- We’re living someone else’s life
- We’re living a life controlled by fear
- We don’t have enough time for our friends and family
- We care too much about how others think of us and our actions
Becoming a digital nomad, it would hit me quite frequently that your reality is your choice. You don’t have to get married if you don’t want to. You don’t have to take that high paying job if you don’t want to. You don’t have to have kids if you don’t want to. You can create your own business if you wanted to. You could sell all your stuff and leave the country if you wanted to.
We have choices!
Granted, some choices may be more difficult than others. It might be easier to take the corporate job than to quit and start your own business. You might trade 40-hour work weeks for 80-hour work weeks in pursuit of your dream. You might have to come across difficult decisions like settle down into a relationship versus live abroad as a single, solo traveler.
Do what your gut tells you. With life ticking away, we can’t live one of regrets and confine ourselves because of fear. And if you fail, fail fast, and learn from your mistakes. This is how we grow and how we stay true to ourselves.
We should do what we want to. Because life is short and our ending is inevitable. Before it all ends, don’t you want to pursue a life worth living?