Life is truly precious. The world we live in, the ability to have our senses and experience what is around us, is incredible yet we don’t appreciate it enough. How often do you stop and reflect about your life, being thankful for what you have accomplished, for where you are at a given moment, and for what is ahead in your future? There have been times in my life where I put my life into perspective. In those moments, it was when I felt I was at a crossroad, in stress, and in a difficult time when I came to see and appreciate all that I had and all that I still had to look forward to.

This past week, the entire Northwestern student body and faculty experienced something like this. Last Thursday, first-year Northwestern student Chuyuan Qui was killed in a biking accident. She came from Nanjing, China to start studying in the fall with the class of 2020. It was the third day of classes for her and just the beginning of her next chapter in life.

Though many of the student body didn’t know her, the event shook the campus. It brought in grief, sorrow, and shock to all who knew her and all who heard about the incident. Here was a young woman who had dreams and aspirations for her next four years at Northwestern University, who was excited to learn and meet new people, who had her whole life ahead of her, and in one fatal accident have that all taken away.

I never had the chance to meet Chuyuan, but her life has impacted mine. She has made me realize again that each day we are given is important. With the unpredictability of our world, we don’t know what will happen to us. We can’t simply assume that each day will come and follow as it always has. We also can’t sit around and pity the times in our lives when life didn’t go the way we planned or wanted either.

As the animated character Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift… that’s why they call it present.” Yes, I am quoting a cartoon film, but what the wise tortoise said is a lesson we should all take into account. We are always awaiting the mystery of tomorrow, but we should remember to be present in the present. Today is a gift that we should be thankful for to be experiencing and receiving.

We know that each day won’t be perfect and exactly how we hoped it to be, but that doesn’t mean we should simply throw a day away and see no meaning from it. Each day has a purpose and it is up to us to see what that purpose is. The purpose of a day could be monumental in your life or just a few moments where you felt hope or joy; whatever it is, I urge you all to find it and appreciate what the day has given you.

As I said earlier, this life is precious. It is essential that we live out each day and not forget to be appreciative of what we have done, are doing, and anticipating because we will never know when our last day will be.