Fear of Life

A few weeks ago, I saw a TED talk given by a mesmerizing student at UNC. Her name is Laura Rozo and her message is “If not now, when?” She seems wise beyond her years, not because she’s a Morehead-Cain Scholar, but because she’s dying.

Laura has a rare form of cancer and, after undergoing every treatment imaginable, has accepted her fate. Her message is that we’re ALL dying. The difference is, she knows what’s killing her. She believes that the awareness that we’re dying should inspire each of us to truly live.

But does it? Are you living? Or merely existing?

Most of us spend our lives going to work each day to earn a steady paycheck. This paycheck allows us to live in a comfortable home, take a vacation once a year and put our kids through college. We spend every day doing what’s asked of us and hoping for a 3% raise. We might buy a lottery ticket once a week – in case we should be so lucky. But we’re pretty content with the status quo. And we come home and spend three hours a night in front of our TVs.

We aspire to better jobs, finer clothes, larger houses and nicer cars. But when we get them, we realize that they don’t make us happy. It’s risk that makes life rewarding. Not the stuff we acquire. It’s the chances we take. The experiences we share. The relationships we form along the way.

Who among us wasn’t happy living in a dumpy apartment with our closest friends when we were 20? We were content because we were trying new things and opening ourselves up to interesting experiences. We had nothing to lose. And we knew it.

Funny thing is, we still have nothing to lose. We just don’t realize it yet.

We live in fear: fear of losing our jobs, fear of losing our money, fear of losing our stature in the community, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of death.

For Laura, death is not something to be feared so much as an inspiration to fully live life.

She’s gone skydiving. She’s become a speaker. She’s challenged herself in ways she never dreamed possible. And it’s made her feel fully alive and invigorated.

Her challenge to us is to stop assuming we have 85+ years on this planet and start living, as Tim McGraw so eloquently sings, “like you were dying.”

Take some risks. Try something new. Challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. . .while you still have time.

Or. . . continue to spend three hours a night in front of your TV.

“…let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” — Hunter S. Thompson