At one of my former jobs, I had the great pleasure of working with a young man named "Vladimir", whose family had emigrated from Russia. Vladimir was a young man with a bright future. He was pursuing his MBA and had big plans and the gifts to make them happen. He was intelligent, charismatic, very sociable, and athletic. He loved to work out and give others advice on how to get fit and stay healthy. But what I remember best about him was his great sense of humour. He could light a room on fire, and often did.
Vladimir was a man who I always described as being "full of life". Not only was he "full of life", but he also "loved life". One of his favourite sayings, which often concluded his frequent discussions regarding his plans and his experiences, was, "Isn't life beautiful?!"
Then one day, some time after I had quit that job, I received the news that Vladimir had had an asthmatic attack and died. My initial reaction was one of shock and sorrow. But shortly afterwards, I was struck (and still am) by the irony. Here was a man who was more full of "life" and had a greater "life" ahead of him to look forward to than anyone else I knew. And yet, it was his "life" that was taken from him.
There are many lessons I have taken from Vladimir's "life". First, his love for life helped me to appreciate life more. I realized how much I took for granted. By merely asking the rhetorical question, "isn't life beautiful?", this fact was brought to my attention when that fact is so easily forgotten or ignored. Second, I was reminded by how "backwards" this life really is. The poor are the richest, the ones who suffer are the most blessed, those who never give birth have the most children, etc. Finally, I was struck by how uncertain our futures are in this life, and that we must always seek to best to store up treasures in heaven and care more about the next life than this current one.