Life is Fickle

Following the devastating crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 last month, I was having a
conversation with a friend and repeating some platitudes. We shouldn’t take people for granted, we should make the most of today…and she challenged me. She asked-what does that mean though? In practical, everyday terms? This post is inspired by her questions. Here are some ways I think we can do so:

1. Be good to the people in your life who you love. Don’t wait for an opportunity to tell them you love
them. Cherish them. Make sure they know you value them. Not only through words but through deeds.

And not only on their birthdays or special occasions but everyday.
2. Settle your debts. Write your will. Leave your affairs in order. Live as if tomorrow is not coming – which it may not.

3. Apologize to the people you’ve wronged. Forgive those who’ve wronged you. Swallow your pride. Don’t walk around and live with the baggage of unforgiveness. Don’t think a right day will come. Today is that day.

4. Don’t take a safe landing or a safe trip for granted. Be grateful when you leave and return safe. Practice gratitude constantly.

5. Check on those you care about – regularly. Send them a message. Pick up the phone and hear their voice. Go see them if you can.

6. The things you want to do – do them. Don’t wait for next year or 5 years or 10 years from now. Age is not a determinant of how long we have on this Earth. Every day we live is a blessing – grab it and make the most of it.

7. Prioritize those that mean the most to you. Be discerning about how and with who and on what you expend your energies and time. It’s precious. Treat it as such.

8. Use the best of what you have. Wear your best clothes, your best jewellery, use your favorite perfume. Put out the best dishes, the best sheets. Live in that beautiful home – if you have it. We often save the best for guests or occasions that may or may not come. Enjoy what you have – every day of life is an occasion to celebrate.

9. To quote a book title and mantra – Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff. The things we stress and agonize over, get furious about and fight over at times are so very unnecessary – especially when seen in the grand scheme of things. Let’s minimize these times and be conscious and manage our angst and anger.

I took that very same flight (ET 302) just a few days prior. Same aircraft. Same time. Same destination. Just a few days difference. I could easily have been on that flight. I know at least two dozen people who could easily have been on that flight. Folks who frequently travel that route.

Folks who boarded that flight had no idea it would be their last few moments. If it teaches us anything, it’s that life is fickle. That we mustn’t bank on tomorrow. That today, and in fact now, is all we’ve got.

Having said all this, I’m not saying we should live our lives in fear or constantly awaiting death – only that we must remember it will come. It’s the only thing, in fact, that’s guaranteed. But in living today, we must also make investments in and save for the future.

Don’t be afraid to fly – I flew back on ET and wrote this post aboard an ET flight. We will only leave this Earth when it’s our time. Not a second before or after.

We must live everyday to the fullest. And live our best lives. Not put off the important things in life, so that when we leave, we leave with no regrets.



Nebila Abdulmelik is a pan-African and feminist storyteller who uses the creative arts to speak her peace and archive stories of daily existence. Born and bred in Addis Ababa, she has since criss-crossed the earth but found her way home again. She is a photographer, poet, writer and editor. Follow her work on and connect with her on Twitter/instagram @aliben86.

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