Today, you will have to humor me as I deviate from my typical posts –
With the Thanksgiving holiday last week, I’ve wanted to write something more than a post about mountains and valleys. Unfortunately, I found the inspiration when yesterday I received an email that a former classmate, Janika, passed away on Thanksgiving day in a car accident in Morocco. We weren’t exceptionally close, mostly acquaintances having shared the same space, classes, and classmates for two years of graduate school. Any death leaves us with a sense of loss, but the death of a friend, with similar life experiences and dreams, creates a profound moment for reflection along with a great sense of loss.
Some of my greatest friends have come out of my graduate school experience — 200 slightly eccentric, highly adventurous people thrown together in a common experience, and now strewn all over the world doing amazing things. Any one of us could have been in that accident. If our places had been changed, would I have been content in the fact that I had made the right life decisions? Would she have been better off staying at home in London? Would I have been better off staying at my job and home in NY?
When people ask me if I am scared to travel, my argument has always been that I would prefer to spend my days tempting fate on a mountain side in Nepal or under the Sahara sky, than in a NY pedestrian cross walk. Would my friend agree with that now?
Life, and death, can happen to us anywhere. Knowing that, I think that the best way to honor those that leave this world before us, is to embrace this life that we have and live every day to its fullest. We need to wake up every morning, throwing open the doors to our lives, forgiving grudges, and finding new ways to share love and kindness with the people we encounter.
This Thanksgiving and Christmas season, take a moment to reflect on the simple privilege of being alive. And in honor of Janika. linger an extra 5 minutes over your dinner with friends, give your husband that extra kiss or niece that extra snuggle, make that phone call just to say hi to you sister or best friend. Live your life relentlessly, honestly, and without apology, because the only thing we know, is that we never know.