The Write Purpose
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The Write Purpose

The 5 Things I Cannot Live Without

Valeria Boltneva

I was recently listening to a podcast (by “recent,” I mean one minute ago) and one of the speakers mentioned “five things they could not live without,” giving facetious answers like iPods and laptops.

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 and Navy SEALS have proved that.

We’re also capable of appreciating and embracing more than we think we can — several parents of disabled children or people who have had traumatic or disabling experiences can testify to this.

So what are 5 things I really CANNOT live without? Seriously?

Running water?

Hard as it might be at first, I know that I could survive as long as I have SOME form of clean water, even if that’s a well at the top of a hill that I have to walk several miles to get to every day.

Indoor plumbing?

I once volunteered in a rural part of Asia where the locals only had 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 still, in the grand scheme of life, and history, indoor plumbing is relatively unimportant, not to mention recent.


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 out there for people to explore, and with my nose constantly in a book, I’ve never really explored them.

All of these things make my life easier in their own ways, but I am fairly convinced that not only can I survive and live without them, I can even be happy without them.

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

(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)

I may change my mind in the future, but for now…

The 5 Things I Really Cannot Live Without

1. Hope

By hope, I mean hope that tomorrow is either going to be a good day (if today is a good day), or a better day (if today is a bad day).

By hope, I mean that this brief, confusing, and often painful life is not all there is to look forward to.

By hope, I mean 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 that hang on walls.

I mean everything that stirs those internal feeings of admiration, awe, and gratitude:

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

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

3. Music

As a trained musician who has been surrounded by it my entire life, music is not just a fun hobby or something I listen to on the radio or overhear in supermarkets.

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 life 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 above.

Either way, music has accompanied me at every step throughout my life and I cannot imagine living without it.

4. The Word of God

I did say before that I could live without books. And I still think I can. But there is one “book” I can’t live without — that is the Word of God.

By the Word of God, I don’t just mean my physical Bible. I do mean the Bible, but it must be combined with God’s living spirit, otherwise I am too prone to ignore or misinterpret what He really means.

The reason why the Word is essential for my life is because I am, unfortunately, too prone to being swayed by every random wind that comes along and sounds interesting. The Word of God is a pillar, a foundation, telling me how to navigate a confusing world that is constantly shouting contradictory messages at me.

We all have to choose a rock to hang on to when life gets crazy. I choose the Cornerstone.

5. Love

I decided to write “love” instead of “family” or “friends,” because it’s a bigger umbrella category. Besides, 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 or another.

But love — not just receiving, but also giving love — is always possible, even if friends and family leave us. As long as there is God and other human beings, love is possible.

And I know I (and I suspect, everyone else) need love in order to really, truly, live.

Kai-Chieh Chan


Interestingly, just about all of my 5 Things are intangible, invisible.

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

What is essential is invisible to the eye.

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Sarah Cy

Sarah Cy


(aka The Scylighter). Writer, musician, reader, daughter. Join our Merry Band, become a Brilliant Writer, and dazzle your readers!