Until I Can't
How beautiful is this?
I get to live in Forest Hills, a nice safe middle-class neighborhood, and was raised by two loving parents. I didn’t have to worry about hunger nor disease nor starvation nor war nor any of that other nonsense.
I went to a good elementary school. My parents had enough resources to enlist me into exciting extracurricular activities, like piano, tennis, skiing, taek won do, snowboarding, and such!
I know how New York City pizza tastes like. I know how Korean kimchi jigae tastes like. I know how Peking duck tastes like. I know how Vietnamese pho tastes like. I’ve eaten at Peter Luger’s. I’ve tasted McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich. Yum.
I’ve traveled to Tibet, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, Iceland, The United Kingdom, Egypt, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Alaska, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Montreal, Toronto. And hopefully, this list will continue on!
I know how it feels to be on top of the world - to graduate Stuyvesant, to graduate Cornell, to live in Paris, to achieve my international MBA, to accomplish my DTM, to grow my business.
Of course, I know how it feels to be negative - to get dumped, to get talked about behind your back, to be made fun of and called “useless”. I know what boredom feels like. I know how it feels to be anxious. To be awkward. To be miserable and left out.
But, that just makes the accomplishments and the entire experience all that sweeter.
I’m not saying all of this to gloat. I’m just saying this because if I were to be diagnosed with a terminal illness next week (hopefully not) - I can simply look back at my 35+ years of existence and think to myself “wow, I’ve had a pretty good run.”
What’s wrong with thinking like this? A little bit of gratitude, acceptance, and perspective never hurt anybody. In fact, it’s three of the eight core pillars of Joy, as the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu once proclaimed together (credit to The Book of Joy)!
I mean, ideally, of course I’d like to pass away at the ripe old away of over 120 years old, breaking the Guinness Book of Records for the oldest person alive on the planet.
Oh yes, and I’d like to perish peacefully in my sleep, surrounded in the loving embrace of my children and my grandchildren. But honestly, how often does life happen as planned?
Every single moment I have together with my mom, my dad, my girlfriend, my friends, my relatives, my community, my city, my country, my world, and my universe. Every single moment I have together with them all - is an absolute gift.
Sorry, this was supposed to be the big takeaway I had at the end of this post. But, I figured that I write this out now in case “something” were to happen between now and the end of this post. If aliens were to come abduct me at this very instant.
But that’s the thing, we’re all looking for that big takeaway at the finish line. Maybe it’s that huge bonus at the end of the year. Maybe it’s finally getting a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Maybe it’s finally getting engaged. Maybe it’s finally getting married (so you don’t have to worry about dating apps anymore).
Maybe it’s finally being able to afford that new house. Maybe it’s finally becoming a dad or a mom. Maybe it’s finally becoming a grandparent.
Maybe it’s finally getting that promotion or recognition you so rightfully deserve! Then, you will be fulfilled!
But what if we never reach the end of the road? What if all we have is the here and now? What if this is all there is to well-being? And what if that’s okay?
I’m not saying that we should not save for the future. That we should not plan. That we should not prepare. That we should not take care of this planet for the benefit of those who come after us.
According to a New York Times article, many cities we take for granted may be underwater by the year 2050 rolls around - including Mumbai, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh, and Galveston.
Will I be around during that time? I’m not sure. Is this NYT article even accurate? I can’t prove this neither. But it’s something that we need to think about. To both prepare for the future, but also appreciate this fleeting moment we all have right now.
Every single moment we have together on this planet. It shouldn’t be taken for granted. Coming to terms with the real certainty of death, can help us all better appreciate the beautiful uncertainty of life.
It can make us feel more alive. More appreciative. More content. More grateful. More blissful. More joyful. More happy. Whatever terminology you want to call it. It can make us simply experience what life is and should be.
Just realize that everything is an absolute gift. The joyful. The painful. They go together hand-in-hand. Like yin and yang. Like black and white. Like peanut butter and jelly.
Every moment is a lesson in growth. Regardless of the perceived good and bad. Just embrace this experience as it is and cherish it.
It’s easier said than done (I have to admit), but I will try to do so and practice. After all, tomorrow I could get hit by a bus. A meteor could fall directly onto NYC. Aliens could invade our planet! Was that why people wanted to storm Area 51? Who knows!
But as of now, I will continue to write as much as I can in this blog. I will continue to enjoy the fleeting time I have on this floating rock - together with my family and friends. I will continue to meditate. I will continue to study philosophy. I will continue to travel. I will continue to eat.
I will continue to go to Toastmasters. I will continue to support and lead - wherever that may be. I will continue to live, grow, and improve.
Until the inevitable time comes when I can’t do so anymore.
Maybe I’ve developed bad habits or incorrect intentions (in which case I hope my friends and family can sincerely help set me straight).
Maybe I got hit and incapacitated by a bus. Maybe I developed Alzheimer’s. Or maybe I’m finally on my death bed at the ripe old age of 120 - surrounded by my loved ones.
Whenever that time comes, I will try to look back at my however many years of existence and think to myself “wow, I’ve had a pretty good run.” I’ve had it good.