Why I Choose to Live

Valentine trip to Barbados (2008)with a good friend who knew how to live life

I consider myself quite healthy, except when I cave into my one true weakness—food.

Otherwise, I have all my teeth except 4 wisdom teeth, all my bones intact except a femur bone strengthened with pins, barely a wrinkle on my face, and several white hair sporadically sprouting. Chronological age is a matter of concept performed by societal need to place numbers and order. In fact, physiological, I’ve been told, I’m quite young and if I continue my exercises regiment and eating healthy, I probably won’t look too different from now, despite the fact that I look almost exactly like I did entering college.

I wasn’t always healthy. College and post college bred a horribly unhealthy person, eating at the oddest times, eating everything, eating cheaply, sleeping a lot, not caring about exercise. It was just a bad time—bad habits developed in college that were hard to break.

When I turned 24, I was diagnosed with a serious condition that cancer would take place within 10 years. I remember crying several days believing it’s the end as I know it. But after I wiped the tears away, I told myself, I will be happy.

I changed my eating habit, my exercise routine, and I strove to make myself a better person. If I had 10 years, I wanted to be happy. I worked harder, I traveled more, I spent more time outside enjoying the sun, the rain, the snow, I made more effort to see my friends, I kept in close contact with my mother, and I lived my life to the best of my ability.

Five years later, I found the diagnosis had altered. Cancer would be delayed for another 20-30 years because I had taken such good care of myself. It was hard and at times, stressful but I never regret it. Seeing my doctor empowered me, made me change the course of my life at a turning point, and propelled me to do the things I wanted to without delay.

I have traveled 8 countries, visited up and down the northeast coast of the US, seen the ocean, volcano, mountains, the Great Wall, the Eiffel Tower, the Roman Empire, the British empire, the youngest strip of land (Costa Rica) connecting North and South America, and have eaten at McDonald’s in 5 countries! I’ve seen the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean in one sitting, the sun setting on the Pacific while the moon rose high over the Atlantic.

I’ve changed job 3 times, each time, upgrading my title, tasks, and salary. I started to believe that I shouldn’t and can’t be taken for granted because I’m great at what I do and I have much more to learn.

I have amazingly close friends, but closer relationship with my mother. I never thought I would love her as much as I do now that I understand her better, as I’m living the age of reasoning and empathizing.

It begs the question, if you were told your life is limited, would you continue to do the same thing that leads to an early death or would you alter it to extend just a few more years or decades? Would you continue living a bland, unfulfilling life or would you grab every moment and every second to create wonderful memories?