Live Like You’re Dying

 

They say you don’t really know how to live until you know how to die. I lost a piece of my heart late last year when my dad’s fiance passed away. Since then, I’ve been consumed with ways to honor her life. I eventually made a promise to myself -- to make each day extra special, in place of the days she will never get to have.

Over holiday break, I became aware of the overwhelming amount of clutter in my life -- not only was my room overflowing with impulse purchases, but my brain became scattered, trying to keep up with it all. As garbage bags filled with items to donate to Salvation Army began to fill the trunk of my car, I stumbled upon a quote in a book:

“Spend money on experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not things to show.”

I thought about the money I was spending on temporary happiness -- fancy coffee and excessive amounts of clothes. But how long do these purchases actually stay satisfactory, before you want something else?

It was then that I decided to start putting my money towards experiences. I started by taking a solo adventure to Chicago for a weekend. And it wasn’t scary -- it was empowering.

I rode in my first UberPOOL, and my driver was a 50-year-old immigrant from India who played Bolly music and told me and four other boys from Cincinnati the meaning of life.

I visited the Chicago Contemporary Art Museum and was surrounded by brilliant minds and ideas. My favorite was an exhibit by Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination. Thater, a pioneer in the movement of bridging the gap of understanding between animals and humans, spoke to me.

I went to a Swedish Diner and tried a Norwegian Salmon bagel with fluffy cinnamon rolls and a fruit bowl for $13 -- a meal that I still recall with fondness almost three weeks later.

 

I met my first Shiba Inu and nearly geeked out of my skin.

I met up with my suitemate/RA from freshman year, and we spent the whole weekend making priceless memories.

That whole weekend, I only spent money on experiences. Those experiences are something I still reflect on for inspiration and creativity. It helped me to look at myself differently -- I traveled to a different state on my own. I spoke with strangers as if they were friends. I saw the person I could be if I learned to let go of my greed and ego.

And let me tell you, I’d never felt more alive.