This piece originally appeared on Ehon's blog, ehonchan.com
It appears here with permission from the author as part of What's Your Calling's Blog Tour.
You learn to live when you learn to die
About a month ago, I was invited to contribute to a US-based campaign, ‘What’s your calling?‘ – and without realising how busy life would become, I said yes, but I have to say it is good to be able to reflect on all the important stuff amongst all the clouds.
The question asked is exactly what the title of the campaign is, “What’s your calling?”. I’m not at all a religious person, so a calling to me is really a very personal thing. It all started when I stared death in the eyes even if not quite literally or directly.
It was 3 o’clock in the morning and boys being boys, we challenged all the “real men” to sneak into the swimming pool even though it was dark, cold and we weren’t supposed to be in the water due to the high amount of chlorine that was dumped into the pool just hours before. I was with a group of my mates, at a resort, being 16 year old boys – irresponsible, ignorant and care-free. After 2 nights of wonderland, I came home, crashed in bed and slept through the evening only to wake up the next morning to a number of missed calls and text messages.
I called one of them, and in between sobs, I heard my friend utter the much dreaded words, “Ryan… went swimming… cramps… hospital… and he died”. Ryan’s my best mate, my brother and in many ways, my mentor. At 16, I wanted to be that kid again – the ignorant, care-free kid – but I had witness my best mate lie on his death bed. Pale, with dark lips, lying on the death bed lifeless, I wish more than I have ever wish for anything, for him to spring up and say, “just kidding!”.
For 3 months, I lost all the faith I had, but in that dark 3 months, I also gained a beautiful, conscious self.
The thing about life is, we’re living, moving empty vessels – what makes this a life is what we decide to do with and fill ourselves with. To me, that’s to be significant in my passions of making this world a better, more equitable place for all the people around me to live in, and to be kind, compassionate and humble.
Staring death in the eyes make you realise how quick you could lose every thing you have, and as sad as that is, it is a lesson for us to all to be consciously aware of the things we do and the things we say. To praise and to apologise, to be humble and to forgive, and to appreciate every being as a capable individual worthy of making a difference. I have to admit that some days, in the midst of all the chaos, its easy to forget these; but hey, we can all only do our best. People are going to doubt your intentions and ability, criticise you and your work, and people are going to judge you – its hard and even I still find it hard to face all these – but if you stay true to yourself, stay on the right track, focus on what’s best for the larger group, you’re fine.
So, back to the question, what’s my calling? I think my calling, really, is to live an honest, conscious life. I don’t live a life to do good, I do good as a result of living a short, finite life. And if I believe that everyone has a calling, I don’t think so, but if you ask me if everyone has their own personal reasons to living the way they live their life, I think so.