Patient: Ever since the close shave I had with cancer a few years ago, I feel like every year is a bonus. I just want to stretch my life for as long as possible…
Doctor: Don’t use the word “stretch”. I believe that life cannot be stretched or bent or twisted. It does not matter how many years you live, it can be 10 years or 20 years. At the end of the day, what matters is the quality of life.
Sometimes when we get too involved with the details, we forget about the bigger picture. When we dread the arrival of the next day because of the details, we forget that everyday is a gift. We forget that quality of life cannot remain as an ideal; we need to be proactive to ensure that we are living life to the fullest.
Just as how Oliver Sacks put it, “My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
What do we do to get the quality of life that we deserve?
For me, one of the things that I do is that I try my best to live life by my own standards. People have invented many metrics to measure other people and I think if we become too bothered by these metrics, we forget the reason why we are doing certain things. My life motto has always been to work hard and play hard. So I will work hard and play hard regardless of what other people may think of me. On the work front, I strive to make as many positive imprints on other people’s lives as possible. On the play front, to the best of my ability, I try to chase as many dreams/ goals that my heart desires. It could be learning Spanish, learning how to dive or chasing the Northern Lights.
I believe that when people follow all the metrics and plan their lives based on the government policies to maximize their benefits under the existing schemes, they are not leading the life of their choice. At the end of the day, you are the one who judges the quality of your own life. Given a choice, what kind of life do you really want to lead? What kind of story do you want to tell when you are old? And what exactly is stopping you from doing what you want to do?