For a few weeks now, I’ve had this nagging feeling that I’ve been wanting to express. It’s a feeling that can’t quite be contained within just one word, or even one blog post, for that matter. It’s a feeling of limbo, of being in a phase of transition between two dimensions of life, of waiting in a playground before being tossed into the middle of a busy highway. It’s a feeling you try to mask up as excitement but in its raw form can be easily classified as fear. It’s a feeling of uncertainty laced with anticipation so intense that the butterflies in your stomach have now been replaced by bats, blind and raging, flapping about without direction. It’s a feeling that’s shared by the entire graduating class of 2012.
I’d been toying around with the idea of verbalizing this feeling sometime soon, maybe just a day before graduation. But now I feel strongly compelled to do it tonight, because, once again, I was reminded of the brevity of life. I heard about another young death today, another life full of potential extinguished out of the blue, another bundle of hpes and dreams saved for the future and cultivated over time to bring to fruition later. Because that’s what we tend to do, isn’t it? We hope, and we dream, and we wonder, and then we gather all these musings up in a box and store them away, thinking “Later, I’ll do all this later.” But that’s where the error occurs. That’s where we foolishly get ahead of ourselves.
I wouldn’t say I have experienced a whole lot in my 22 years, but one thing I’ve learned the hard way is this: as easy as it is to think that we will always have time to do things later, it is just as easy for that time to be taken away from us. It has nothing to do with who lands the dream job first, who gets into the competitive post-grad program, or even who gets married off first. The simple, honest, and brutal fact is this: EVERYTHING matters. By everything, I mean, every single moment you spend mulling over life choices and moaning about what’s fair and what’s not and what you could do as opposed to what you should do; these very moments are the ones people take for granted. This is not a ‘carpe diem’ message or a shout out to motivate people to live life to the fullest. No, it is a simple call for people to just be aware.
My brother died at the age of 30. Being just some years short of that, I try to wake up and go to sleep with just one thought in my mind: I may have just 8 more years to live, I have to make them count. My brother led a good life: he lived abroad, he traveled, he loved, he worshiped, he worked, he sang, he created more life. I can only try to do all these things by the time I am 30. If there is one graduation lesson that I would like to communicate to everyone, this is it: Live as if you just have till 30. Don’t wait for a life event to bring you to this realization like I did. Make everything count, and always, be kind. Power, fame, and wealth are all great and worth coveting, but the most lasting thing you leave in your life in an impression. Your legacy will not be what you leave in your will, it will be the amount of goodness you spread, the wisps of memory you leave behind in each person you met. And you don’t need to be a saint to do it; heck, I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not always the nicest person around. But once again, all you have to do is be aware.
All those dreams, hopes and wonders that you’ve got tucked away in a box saved for the future, take them out. Look at them closely, and think hard: are all of them really what you want or just what you thought you wanted before? Surround yourself with them, and one by one, go for each one. It ceases to matter whether the end result is failure or success once you become aware of the magnitude of your actions: you’re pursuing phantoms, and eventually, they will become real. Live in the real world, and don’t box up things that you think don’t match it. It IS possible to do both, and I know that for a fact. In the one year following my brother’s death, I chased dreams into reality: I designed my own clothing line, I interned at a corporation, I wrote a novel, and I traveled to a new place. On its own, each achievement is unique, but together, they form a bundle, one that I had once labelled as “To do in future.” My bundle turned true, and the main force driving it is the same thought that I share with all of you again: Live as if you just have till 30. You will be amazed by how much better you will become.