If there's one thing that unites us all, it's the inevitability of death. That may sound morbid, and it's not something most of us care to think about, but our mortality is something every person on Earth has in common.

However, ideas and beliefs about what dying means are as diverse as humanity itself. So when someone manages to nail a universal truth about death, we pay attention. And when someone does so in a way that touches us deeply, we share it as a way to say, "Look at this gorgeous evidence of our shared human experience."

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If you and I (in this fantasy we are best friends fulfilling our lifelong dream of visiting Paris) decided to see what The Louvre's glass pyramid looked like covered in paper, we would likely spend the majority of our trip becoming intimately acquainted with France's legal system.

I know it sounds unfair but the reality is that you (best friend) and I are not famous artists. And while the french government may not trust us to cover one of its most famous landmarks in paper, I have some excellent news: We can still see what it looks like.

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Pediatrician Alastair McAlpine gave some of his terminal patients an assignment. What they told him can inspire us all.

"Kids can be so wise, y'know," the Cape Town doctor and ultra-marathon enthusiast posted to his Twitter account. He asked the young patients, short on time, about the things that really mattered to them.

What followed was a string of life advice that'll make you want to be a better person, no matter how old you are.

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​This post was originally published on Wait But Why.

Some people see life like an ocean. They go where the current takes them.

Other people see life like a ball of clay in their hands — something to be held and shaped and molded.

In an ocean, you’re small and helpless, surrounded by something much bigger than yourself. It can make you wonder whose life you’re even living.

But sometimes, the ocean can lead you to mysterious places you never knew you wanted to go.

Holding a ball of clay, you’re all-powerful.

Your life takes the shape that you give it — and it’s surprising how shapeable life can be when you treat it like clay. Sometimes, you shape your life into something that feels just right.

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