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For as long as I can remember, (which I'll quickly admit is not that long *hehe) I've always seen or heard the term 'luxury' described according to material wealth, financial exuberance and opulence.

"Look at the size of that house."

"What a luxurious community to live in."

"Wow! look at that yacht or super car."

"Oh my what a luxurious outfit!"

etc. etc.

To be completely honest, I have no problem with it. I think from a qualitative perspective it's kind of cool to see a level of finesse and excellence whether it be in design, price, aesthetic, quality or just the overall experience of what we call luxury. For example as a certified tea master sommelier, I'd be the first to distinguish a luxurious Da-Hong Pao Tea, coming in at a whopping 1.2 million dollars per kilo ... Yes, you can breathe now. or an aromatic Tieguanyin Tea, coming in at $3,000 per kilo as compared to your typical English breakfast or Earl Grey black tea in the grocery store ranging anywhere from $0.99 - $2.00 for a million tea bags. A hyperbole of course. Kind of.

But my point is, luxury from this stand point is exciting and adventurous and worth striving for to create memorable experiences,

but is that the true meaning of luxury?

In 2009, I was the victim of a nearly fatal stabbing by a high-school thug in what started out as a regular fist fight over stupid lyrics to a rap song, quickly escalated to brutal and extremely violent crime scene. I found myself fighting for my life with four or more stab wounds piercing my body from my neck to my lower abdomen. It was tragic, I had never experienced such pain, trauma and difficulty breathing in my life and yet there I was gasping for every bit of air that I could find.

I apologize for the graphic scenario, but it does bring home a very important point about luxury, or at least the true meaning of luxury in my opinion.

On April 16 (a day after the incident) breathing became luxury to me. To actually wake up and see someone smiling at me after such violent images in my head of fighting and yelling and bloodshed and anger. Healthcare, doctors, nurses and the pleasant staff that made for a clean and enjoyable hospital experience was luxury to me.

Sunshine was luxury to me. Just to look out that St. Michael's Toronto hospital and see birds and buildings and people and planes after enduring the heavy beating of the helicopter's propellers the night before while the paramedics stared at me trying to infuse hope and the will to live into me through gentle, faint smiles.

Family became luxury to me. The warm conversations, visits and support to help me get back to myself, to get back on my feet and to redirect my life in a completely new and inspiring way, while at the same time never making me feel guilty of who I was and where I found myself during that episode of life.

Community is luxury to me. My story has become my message and has been embraced by the community of people around me. Local government officials and dignitaries, friendly neighbours and business owners, students and educational facilitators and even other youth who have found themselves incarcerated or in a tough and similar spot in life have become the people that I now share positive messages of hope with and through sharing and listening to these unique stories, I have completely changed my views on what it means to live a luxurious life.

So to answer my own question...

A Resounding YES! I do now live a luxurious lifestyle and I encourage you to as well.

With love,


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