Ady Barkan: If you were dying like I am, how would you live differently?


In 2016, political activist Ady Barkan and his family were enjoying the perfect summer in paradise. Barkan’s wife, Rachael, had just taken a job teaching English at the University of California. Their son, Carl, was born. Their evenings were filled with books, movies and late-night conversations about how to make the world a better place.

But by the autumn, Ady Barkan would be diagnosed with a terminal illness.

“When I was diagnosed, my doctor gave me an expectation of living three to four years,” he told Mic. “It was, as you can imagine, the worst week of my life. Literally, my mind, I would just think, ‘Fuck, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I have ALS. This can’t be true. Goddamnit, how did it happen?’ I would even say to myself, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea. At age 32 just contract a terminal illness that has no cure and no good treatment and no known cause; that’s a fucking great idea, Ady.’”

Barkan said his diagnosis taught him just how unpredictable life is.

“Even if you construct what feels like a perfect life, the legs can get swept out from under you without a moment’s notice,” he said. “And if that’s true, if our time on Earth is limited and the future is unpredictable, then the lesson is you have to seize each day. Society gives us so many rules and expectations and pressure, and so much of it is bullshit.”

In a powerful op-ed for Mic, Ady Barkan challenges you to live a more meaningful life by joining him on his journey to rebuild our democracy. Watch above and find out more at