I don’t care who said it; Buddha, Saint Nick, or Rachael Ray. For me it’s a very meaningful quote. The impact of dying had not truly registered for me until the day I found out my brother had suddenly passed away. My whole life changed in an instant.
One of the biggest surprises was the suddenness. My brother was a strong, healthy man. I think we sometimes forget that every day we are dying just a little bit at a time. I think we also forget that many people die without warning. For me my brothers passing was a huge wake up call. It was a wake up call to start living my life. To start pursuing my passions and to go travel the world. It reminds me of The Shawshank Redemption quote “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Well I sure as shit wasn’t going to wait any longer. When I returned home from his celebration of life I immediately took up jogging. I didn’t care how much my lungs burned or how much my legs ached because I wasn’t going to stop. I can honestly say that running probably saved my life. I was hitting the booze pretty hard at the time and had almost no ambition. But I kept telling myself “Your’e going to die soon. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sooner than you think. You have no control of when or how it is going to happen.”
I also started planing my first trip outside of the United States. I was 29 years young and had never left the country. Reading that statistic now is kind of hard for me to swallow. All of those years I could have been trekking around other countries. That’s alright though, the point is that I started to live my life in a way that was fulfilling to me.
I’ve had lots of conversations with different people since then. 99% of the time when someone asks me for advice on whether to do something that will be a life experience, or a new adventure for them, my response is “Yes, absolutely. You never know when you’re going to die. Don’t wait a moment longer”. I have to explain to people that I’m not being morbid. I do not have a death wish. It’s quite the opposite. I have a strong desire to live. I also do a lot of activities that wear on my body. I have a lot of scars and ‘battle wounds’. People ask me how my body will function when I get older. I tell them “there’s no guarantee I’ll get older and if I do I’ll figure it out then”.
All in all life is short. For some it’s entirely way too short. I think we are put here on this Earth to love and to learn. We are here to find what makes us happy and to help our fellow humans. I hope that you are not putting off your life and telling yourself “Someday, or When I have enough money I will…”. Because lets face it. Someday doesn’t exist and you may never have ‘enough’ money. You have to reach out and grab life with whatever you have and let the journey help shape you and help you become a fantastic human being.
It’s also worth noting that you can start off small. You don’t have to leave the country like I did. Just start by making choices that make your life happier and healthier. Over time you’ll develop the habit of making better choices and begin to challenge yourself with bigger and wilder dreams.