I don’t feel old even in the slightest, but as of late I have this overwhelming concern that I’m not living the life I could be. Last year, I vividly remember writing a post about my friend Hyeyun who passed away at just forty years of age, after succumbing to a battle with cancer. I don’t talk about her much, because I still get sad just thinking about her. I could probably say a hundred good things about her.
I remember hearing the news of her passing while I was at work, and it took everything in me, to be professional, to fight my tears. It hit me extremely hard because I not even a full 24-hours prior, she called me, but I had no idea that it would be our last conversation. Looking back, though, the conversation wasn’t chilling at all, it was peaceful, she seemed so calm.
However, there is another, prior conversation I had with her not long after finding out just how grim her situation was. After finding out that her illness was terminal, I just tried to be a good listening ear, to be as supportive a friend as I could be. I remember one particular day where she really seemed down. One of the things she told me was that she wasn’t afraid of dying, but she was afraid of not having the chance to live the life that she wanted. I never forgot those words.
Since I’ve been here in Japan, I have lost family, teachers, and I’ve seen some iconic figures pass away. Thousands of people lost there lives in a flash, when the tsunami hit after this year’s Great East Japan earthquake. I am mature enough to know that death is one of life’s ultimate realities. But whether it’s my 90+ year-old grandmother, or my 40-year-old friend…death effects me.
I’m a big believer in that it’s not necessarily how long you live, but what you do with the years you have. If there was another major disaster that took me out tomorrow, or if I were fortunate enough to become a nonagenarian like my mother’s parents (in either case) would I be okay with the life I’ve lived? Well, if tomorrow was judgement day for me, my answer would be an unequivocal “no.” There is SO much more that I want to be doing now, and in recent months I’ve become utterly obsessed with it.
Lately I haven’t really been sleeping much (averaging about 3-4 hours a night), missing workouts, missing meals, missing karate, not going out…because I’m working desperately to break through the obstacles necessary to live the life I want.
The biggest set of chains, as you’ve probably guessed, are the financial ones (as they are for most people). I’m doing okay for money, but I’m not okay with okay if that makes sense. I want to know that if I woke up tomorrow and I had no job, that everything would be more than fine. That’s honestly what I would like to work towards someday soon. I have other chains as well: mental chains keep me from learning the things I want to as well as I could (Japanese, karate, piano, etc.), physical chains keep from reaching my fitness goals, and the list goes on. I don’t want to break these chains someday, not when I’m 35, not when I’m 45…it’s time to starting break them now, whether it’s comfortable for me or not.
I’m tired of the “if syndrome” “If I had enough money,” “If I had more time,” “If I could just work for myself,” “If only my Japanese were better,” “If only I could go home for Christmas,” if, if, if…
I just know there’s gotta be something I can do.
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