5 Things I Can’t Live Without

5 Things I Can’t Live Without

Image for postKai-Chieh Chan

The funny thing about human beings is that we?re actually capable of enduring much more than we think we can. Scores of trauma survivors have proved that.

We?re also capable of appreciating and embracing more than we think we can ? parents of disabled children or people who have gone through disabling experiences can testify to this.

But what are 5 things I really CANNOT live without*? Seriously?

Indoor plumbing?

I once volunteered in a rural part of Asia where the locals used squat toilets. It took a LOT of getting used to, but I did get used to it, eventually. Sort of.

Granted, I was only there for a couple weeks. But in the grand scheme of life, plumbing is relatively unimportant.

So that won?t make it on the list. What else?


Much as I love books, I have to admit that I probably can live without them.

My life might be less intelllectually stimulated?but then again, maybe not. I?ve heard there are many mysteries of nature I?ve never fully explored, with my nose always in a book.

So not books either. Then what?

All of these things make life easier in their own ways, but I am fairly convinced that not only can I live without them, I can even be happy without them. Plenty of people are doing so even now.

So after thinking about it, I narrowed down my list of 5:

5 Things I Cannot Live Without

1. Hope

By hope, I mean:

  • hope that the future will be good (if the present is also good), or better (if the present is painful).
  • hope that this brief, confusing, and often painful life is not all there is to look forward to.
  • hope that although I may be growing old and losing certain things (innocence, opportunities, visual acuity), there is a chance to either regain what I?ve lost or to gain other things ? equal or better than what I?ve had to give up.

If I don?t have hope, I don?t have anything.

2. Beauty

By beauty, I don?t just mean sculptures and paintings. I mean everything that stirs those internal feeings of admiration, awe, and gratitude:

Beautiful visions (sunrises and hummingbirds and flowers), textures (silk pillowcases and soft puppy fur), actions (people demonstrating forgiveness and generosity).

To me, beauty is a large part of what makes life worth living.

3. Music

Music is a language, a worldview, a way I make sense of and interpret and understand and address the world that I live in.


Music rises, unbidden, to my mind in response to certain situations. Some of these are songs that I?ve learned or heard before. Some are new songs, dropped into my head like a gift from God.

Either way, music has accompanied me at every step throughout my life and I can?t imagine living without it.

4. The Word of God

The reason why the Word is essential for my life is because I am, unfortunately, easily swayed. The Word of God is a pillar, helping me navigate a confusing world that is constantly shouting contradictory messages at me.

I have to admit I don?t read/listen to it half as much as I ought to. But we all have to choose a rock to hang on to when life gets crazy. This is my rock.

5. Love

I don?t mean romance, which unfortunately is what this word boils down to much of the time.

I mean love. And decided to write ?love? instead of ?family? or ?friends,? because family and friends are never guaranteed to stay in one?s life.

Whether because of geography or death or simply growing apart, every person has experienced the loss of friends and family at some point.

But love is always possible, even if certain friends and family leave us.

And we all need to love and be loved in order to really, truly, live.

Image for postValeria Boltneva


Interestingly, nearly all of my 5 Things are intangible.

But that is as it should be. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery once famously said,

What is essential is invisible to the eye.

Thanks for reading!

What are the top 5 things you can?t live without?

*Food, water, oxygen, clothing, and shelter are not included, because they are too fundamental to the maintenance of life, aka survival, and we?re not talking about surviving, here, we?re talking about living 🙂

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