Recently, a friend of mine passed away. We hadn’t spoken in years, but that didn’t change the grueling heartbreak I felt when I got the news. When our friendship was strong a few years ago, he was a big part of my life.
Of course, time passed and we continued our lives separately, but I’d still think about him from time to time and smile.
We were part of an eclectic group of friends that included some weird, eccentric, completely wonderful people with whom I spent a serious amount of time during my freshman year of college. Unfortunately, we all lost touch.
The magnitude to which this loss affected me actually surprised me. But, through all the pain, there was one light. After five or so years, this loss managed to bring my eclectic group of friends back together.
A couple of us even talked about it: “It’s really sad that it took this tragedy to get everyone talking again,” one of us said. Now, we’re even planning a reunion, although it won’t be the same without our dear friend.
This pain has helped me remember that life truly is short. I never thought I’d be mourning a friend at the age of 24, but I am. Recently, I’ve thought about my priorities and what is really important. It’s sort of like a bucket list, but less about doing crazy things and more about getting as much out of this life as I can.
So, here are the things I think every person should do in life. Yeah, some may be cliché, but they’re clichés for a reason:
1. Live somewhere other than where you were born. It can change your perspective, not to mention your life.
2. Get the education you always wanted, even if it’s unconventional. Learn about what you love, not just what someone else wants you to learn.
3. Find the true meaning of a best friend. There’s something beautiful about a person (or people) who stand by you through absolutely everything.
4. Seek out friends with whom you’ve lost touch (before it’s too late). If someone was once important to you, there was a reason why.
5. Learn what it means to love before you fall in love. Love a pet, a friend, a family member. Love yourself.
6. Stand up for what you believe is right, even if it makes someone mad. You can’t please everyone, but you have to live with yourself.
7. Travel somewhere you’ve always dreamed to go. Money is just paper. Experiences stay with you forever.
8. Take days off from everything. Go to the beach, take walks through the park or just lay on your couch. Everyone needs a break.
9. Find ways to make your career out of your passion. It shouldn’t have to just be a job; it should be a life.
10. Hug at least one person every day. Hugs are proven to brighten people’s days, so you’re doing a good thing for yourself and the other person by doing so.
We live in a world where pretty much anything is possible, so why not take advantage of it? It shouldn’t take a tragedy or a heartbreak to help us realize what’s important, yet too often, it does.
We should wake up every morning and live every day to its fullest, but honestly, how many of us do that? Many of us get bogged down in the little things instead of rejoicing in the big ones.
I wish I could say I always appreciate every person an opportunity I have in my life, but I’m human. Sometimes, we take the beautiful things we have for granted, and we don’t realize it until they are gone. And, every time I experience a loss — big or small — I have this revelation that I need to appreciate more and whine less.
It will take some time for me to get over the pain of losing my friend and the incredible sadness I feel for his family. My friend was one of those guys who lived every day to the fullest, took crazy adventures and smiled constantly.
He appreciated those around him and enjoyed his life. In his honor, I intend to do the same. Life is beautiful, so let’s go live it.
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