This I Believe

Alexander - Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Entered on December 15, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

What if I die tomorrow? Will I be happy with the way I’ve lived my life? Are there any opportunities that passed me by in life? It may be cliché, but my philosophy is to live life to the fullest, so no matter what happens tomorrow, I will be happy with the way I’ve lived my life today. I live my life this way after I witnessed the lives of people around me.

There is one neighbor who I have known for years. He has a wife and four kids. He’s a bit over fifty years old. He has Alzheimer’s. Before he was diagnosed with the disease, he was a dentist. Alzheimer’s forced him to stop practicing dentistry because there is the possibility he will forget what to do while working on a patient, and make a major mistake. I give him credit for becoming a dentist. He knew what he wanted to do in his life, and he took the time to realize it. That part of his life didn’t fly by; instead, he seized the chance to do what he loves, and give his family a better life. When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his family couldn’t leave him alone anymore. He might forget where he was and wander off somewhere. He is now living in a retirement home, the only place where he is safe, but he is imprisoned there. He can never leave for long, and only if his family takes him. What if that’s me when I’m older? By the time that I am fifty, I want to be married with children. I want to see my children grow up and to teach them all that I know. But even before that, I want to play soccer in college, and hopefully at the professional level afterwards. If soccer is not my profession, I want to become a doctor. All of these goals I must achieve by taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves to me. If I live my life the way that I want, no matter what happens when I am older, I will be pleased with the life that I have led.

One of my grandfathers was an immigrant from Greece. The only surviving member of his family is his sister, who lives in Crete. Over the years, my grandfather has visited his family in Greece numerous times. But every time he talks to me about his family, he expresses his guilt for not visiting them more. Now, as he grows older and his health declines, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to travel. At this moment, he is in Greece, for his final visit to his homeland. When I reach the age of my grandfather, I hope to travel to as many countries as possible, both with friends and my family. I want to do this so that at the end of my life, I will be content with the experiences I have had. Also, I want to seize every chance to see my family, so when the day comes that they are no longer with me, I will know that I spent as much time with them as possible, and did everything that I wanted to with them.

Live life to the fullest. It may be a commonly used term, but to me it has a different meaning. For some, living life to the fullest means do whatever they want, with no thought for anybody else. To me, that phrase means to achieve my most valuable goals in life when possible, to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to me, and to leave the world a better place. This, I believe.