I lost an old friend today. She wasn’t my best friend, she wasn’t even really a “good” friend, but she was a friend. We’d shared drinks before, shared laughs, we’d even had little chats about life and love and all the funny things in between.
It’s been about 3 years since I’ve seen her, but every few days I’d see something about her on Facebook, either hiking through Europe, or trekking through South America, or eating something weird in Asia.
However today I didn’t read about her on Facebook. I read about her in the newspaper. At the ripe age of 28, she was discovered dead in her home, cause of death unknown.
Her name was Ying. I first met her at a leadership conference, where she wasn’t a participant like I had been, but a mentor. I still remember on the second day she went up front to speak for the first time, and as soon as she got hold of the mic screamed “How’s everybody going!!!!!” It was deafening. But that was her personality – big, loud and always smiling. It was at this conference that my life changed infinitely for the better. I realised I didn’t have to settle for second best. I realised that I was capable of being more than an accountant. I realised that people were not measured by their university degree or their bankroll, but by their ability to inspire and enlighten others to be the best that they could be. I’ll always be grateful for the part she played in that.
So many people complain these days that life sucks and work sucks and I wish I could do this and wish I could do that. Ying was one of the few who had the balls to non conform and just do it. Talk is cheap. There’s nothing to admire in sitting in a cubicle everyday talking about your imaginary better future. Ying didn’t sell out to a society that told her her dreams were not good enough and an office was her only acceptable choice. She was one of the few who had the courage to live life to the max, on her own terms, and I’ll forever admire her for that.
Life is so very fragile and unfair. How the universe allows such a bright life to be taken at such a young age is incomprehensible, but it is also a brutal reminder that our time on this Earth is finite. There is no sense in saying that we will do it next year, or next week, or tomorrow, because there is never a guarantee that you will make it that far in the first place. Nor do we have the luxury of assuming that we will.
The news left me numb for most of the day. I shed a few tears, and then as soon as Mum came home I told her I loved her, much to her surprise I’m sure, and then I simply sat in my desk chair, thinking about my life and all the regrets I’d have if I died in my sleep tonight. The sad thing is, I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and nothing will change. I won’t go bungy jumping, I won’t sit on the beach and appreciate the waves. I’ll just sit in this chair and do the same stupid shit I did today. Or maybe I won’t.
“When was the last time time you did something for the first time?”
For me, it’ll be today.
R.I.P. old friend. The world will miss you, but you continue to live on through the inspiration you gave to all of us.
Photo credit: MissTurner @ Flickr