December 18, 2008 12:32 PM

A revelation worth sharing

This is something I’d like to share with you, partially because of the holiday season and potentially for your own reflection. Some of you I’ve already told, others I haven’t. Hopefully you will gain something from this. Otherwise, I just wish you happy holidays.

One of my sisters died on the day after Thanksgiving. On her death bed, I was telling her about my plans for the future and she told me “Don’t forget to live.” I wasn’t sure what that meant at first but I started thinking about how I had lived my life thus far and how I was planning to live it in the future. I realized that I live my life very goal-oriented. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s great to have aspirations and to work for them. But sometimes, especially as college students, we forget to appreciate things in the moment. With every minute that we spend studying for an exam or writing our notes in lecture, we tend to think in terms of the goal we are trying to reach whether that’s simply the degree, a well-paying job or future stability. For the longest time, I maintained a mentality of “I need to know this stuff so I can pass the exam so I can get my degree” and I would immediately forget the material as soon as the exam was over. I was wasting time, effort, and money for an education that I would never retain.

Imagine you are building a brick road to a certain destination. You work hard day in and day out, laying each brick down in an effort to get to that destination as quickly as possible. Even when the work becomes so monotonous, you maintain this idea that you are getting closer to your goal and that is what keeps you laying down each brick. How would you feel if you ended up never reaching your destination? Would you feel disappointed? Would you feel like you wasted all of your time and effort? Would you feel the need to start over? Do you think you would even have the energy to start over? Now, here’s the big shift. Would you feel differently if you had actually enjoyed laying each brick down at the moment that you were doing it? Would you still feel that you had wasted your time even if you didn’t make it to your goal? What if, in enjoying the work, you left the door of possibilities open? What if you could change the direction of your path because you maintained its flexibility? Would you still feel that everything you had done thus far was a waste?

This is what I think she meant by “Don’t forget to live.” I still think in terms of the goals I am trying to reach, but enjoying the journey on the way in case I don’t make it. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to stimulate change and I think that knowledge allows for change to occur. So the destination I’m trying to reach is a degree so that I can instill knowledge through education. When I study and when I’m listening in lecture, I think “I need to learn this stuff so that I can teach it to others. Who’s going to listen to me if I don’t know what I’m talking about?” So I am still goal-oriented, but the difference is that because I’m enjoying what I’m learning, I talk about it more to other people and I apply it more to my own life and in doing that, I am already creating change in the world without a degree, without having fully reached the destination. And even if I don’t reach my destination, I have lived because I enjoyed laying each brick down and I can still take what I’ve done in another direction. My life will not end because I maintained flexibility in my path so that I can adjust accordingly.
So in part, I wanted to share this with you so that you can take a good look at how you live your life and maybe learn what I’ve learned from her. And with this holiday season, it’s supposed to be about appreciating your loved ones right? Don’t just limit it to the holidays. You really never know what the future will bring. Appreciate your loved ones and also yourself.

Thank you Ate Minnie for sharing your wisdom with me and changing my life for the better.

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