Two sentences uttered by one of the most influential political and spiritual leaders in international history serve to define the person I am today. The revolutionary nonviolent protester and philosopher Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” This quote represents my attitude toward every choice that I am forced to make as I live through every day of my life. More specifically, it represents my core belief that in the flowing fabric of time, no one moment can be replicated, no one word can be repeated, and yet knowledge is immortal. With this in mind, I consciously shape my life to become a person that takes risks and gives to others while simultaneously striving to enrich my life with knowledge. In effect, I fall asleep every night genuinely believing that I have lived my life to the fullest.
I’d like to think that I won’t die tomorrow, but that’s not the point. The larger (less morbid) issue is the one I’m faced with every day when making everyday decisions–will I regret it? Will I regret deciding not to volunteer to do something retrospectively irrelevant? Will I regret remaining silent when one of my peers is faced with despicable words of hate? Will I regret remaining ignorant rather than immersing myself in other cultures and knowledge of the universe? Those are the questions I am compelled to ask myself. I am inherently obligated to give back as much as I can to the world that has given so much to me. I serve the community and act thoughtfully not because of what I gain, but because I understand the profound effects my actions have on others. With that in mind, I can take risks and do what is right to better myself and my surroundings. As a result, if I happen to die tomorrow, I won’t regret what I did today.
When I gaze into a mirror, I see more than a teenager in need of a haircut. I see someone who takes risks and goes out of his way to ensure that no moment in time passes with a chance for later regret. Additionally, I see someone who strives to enrich his life with endless knowledge and a broad view of the world regardless of inconvenience. While I plan on living for a while past tomorrow, I still embrace Mahatma Gandhi’s words because they reflect my intrinsic values as I continue on my journey to the person I will see in the mirror years in the future. My entire character and being is shaped by what I do and what I know, thus I fully intend to live life to the fullest.
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