This entry was originally a writing exercise for a college course.

“Dean. Five years from today you will be dead.”

Disbelief, helplessness, and despair all flood my mind faster than I can comprehend what it all really means, and the impact it will ultimately have on my life. As I sit and contemplate the changes I will ultimately have to make and what I will want to accomplish in the remaining years of my life I become acutely aware of the clock and the seconds ticking away.

As I recover my first rational thought happens upon everything I can’t accomplish in five years. And with a shiver, my heart breaks. I realize that even if I have children, they will grow up never truly knowing there dad. I will never see them grow up, teach them how to ride a bike, a car, and see them fall in love, get married, I will never know what it was like to be a grandfather. Not that it matters much; holding down a long lasting relationship has never been my forte. And then, out of the blackness, it hit me – love. I’ve never been in love. Romantic love has always eluded me; relationships seemingly ending before they begin. However, through it all, I never worried too much; falling in love is something I took for granted would happen naturally. Yet now I’m on a timeline; now I have the purpose to travel, to meet new people, to explore the world – the pursuit of love.

In another place and another time, I recall a question that was asked of me. I contemplated it a bit before answering with an answer that has now faded from memory. At the time, I wasn’t in a position in my life where I could truly grasp the enormity and meaning of the question. This simple question, trivial then, and painfully significant now – What do I want to be remembered for after I die? What kind of mark do I want to leave behind? A quote I once read came quickly to mind.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”


To know one life has breathed easier because you have lived – how true to my heart that has always been. I’ve always feel a sense of accomplishment and a rush of righteousness after helping others; I guess it’s one of my selfish indulgences. So in order to give back, to leave my imprint behind on the world I would seek out a way to help others – the Peace Corps, Red Cross, or something equivalent pop into my mind.

Now comes the tricky part. How am I going to deal with the financial aspect of the next five years? Selling everything I own would make sense given I plan to travel a lot and worldly possessions mean little when traveling other than more weight to lug around. The things I would keep are simple: photos, memoirs, and of course a few art supplies. For if there is one thing I can physically leave behind it’s my artwork. The inspiration and motivation created throughout my five years of travel shall produce a legacy of works that will be my small mark on the world. And through my travels, the subject matter would be more diverse than I could possibly imagine. And selling these paintings, drawings, and sketches would be my way of funding my voyage through the world.

I must admit the most difficult part of knowing I’m going to die in five years is the search for a meaning to my life. What am I here for? What’s my purpose? It’s something I have always thought of, but now it’s the most nagging question on my mind. After a lot of reflection, asking myself what I love about life, and what I think everyone wants out of theirs, I think I’ve come up with an answer. We were born to live, to love, to hope and dream, to know joy, and most importantly to have faith that our lives have meaning. That without meaning, without purpose, life is dark and we’re just living to die. Once I realized this, I was at peace. Five years was an immense amount of time, I just have to live it and have faith. Because who knows what tomorrow will bring?

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

―Oscar Wilde