I once met a guy who told me a piece of advice. He leaned toward me with his hands clasped and said, “Kid, the worst thing you can do in your life is exist.” I did not understand what he meant until I was riding the subway back home. I remember sitting in the sticky subway seat, observing the people, half daydreaming. When two kids, no older than 10, started whining. I watched them yell and bicker at each other for possession of the stuffed rabbit between them. They were yelling for a while and had drawn attention from others on the bus, but their mother was doing nothing to silence them. I watched their mother stare at her phone expressionless. Her stare was so blank it was scary. The vision of that mother stayed with me as I walked out of the station and into the park. As I sat on a bench watching the dropping sunset, so many people held the same stare. A stare so blank, so dead, I felt uncomfortable looking at them. It was then that those words held meaning to me. In the world around us, so many people exist, but almost none of them live.
Living does not mean you have to be rich and famous. Many of the happiest people have little to nothing. But they have learned how to live. They have learned the difference between physical wealth and happiness, knowing you can never truly have both. As I made my way into my apartment, I vowed to myself that in my life, given to me by God, that I would never exist; but that I would live.