If you knew you only had one day left to live…
Amid three different pieces of horrible news this week, I’ve been waiting for some news of my own. I don’t plan on dying tomorrow, next week, next year or for a long time yet, but given the way the week has gone I’ve had to stop and think – if I were told I don’t have as long to live as I expected, what would be the one thing I would most regret not having done?
I still don’t know. The list is too long. I haven’t even pinned down a bucket list yet – my bucket list currently says “everything.”
I know that I waste too much time and energy on things and people that are not important. We all do.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to take bad news to reevaluate and reconsider your life – you can start whenever you want.
Why not now?
Do the people you love know that you love them? Do you waste time worrying about the people who shouldn’t matter? Do you even know the difference? What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do that’s JUST out of reach? Is it at all possible for you to go ahead, overcome that tiny hurdle, and do it? Is it possible for you to go ahead, overcome many huge hurdles, and do it? Are you doing what you want with your life? If not, what can you change? Do you do the life equivalent of “saving the good china for when company comes”? Why?
It’s harder to figure out what you want than it is to find out you can’t have it. The worst thing that could possibly happen when you apply for your dream job is a job rejection. The worst thing that could possibly happen when you ask someone out is that they say “No.” The worst thing that could possibly happen when you ask for a raise is that you don’t get it.
The worst thing that will happen when you try anything is that you won’t succeed. And then what? You try again or you try something else. Simple.
Often people who find out they don’t have a lot of time left want to leave behind words of advice – words that we are inspired by, but for some reason never really follow. It’s always the same message, however:
Don’t waste any time not trying, and don’t save anything for another day. Drink the good wine, just because it’s Tuesday. Apply for that dream job, a promotion, to law school, to be towel guy for the Habs, if that’s what you want. Kiss as many people as you want (with their permission, of course), and don’t listen to what the Judge Police have to say about it. Don’t settle for anything less than great sex (but be safe). Don’t talk to vapid people. If you’re not learning something from every person in your life, cut the fat. Worry about putting a roof over your kids’ heads but not whether your house is perfectly neat and tidy. If you’re lucky enough to have kids – go play in the snow with them some more. If you have a crush on that girl in your accounting class, ask her out. Don’t spend all your money on Lotto tickets, but buy yourself something nice once in a while.
Because a day may come and you may find yourself sitting in a cold, cold room in a clinic or hospital, being told that your life isn’t going to be as long as you thought it was going to be, and that you are going to spend whatever shortened amount of time you have left fighting for more time, and you will not have had the chance to do all the things you have always wanted to do. Or a day may come and your life may be taken in an instant – your loved ones would want to know you lived your dreams.
If it makes you happy and you’re not harming anyone, why aren’t you doing it? If, like me, you haven’t decided or figured out what you want, then stop procrastinating (I promise I will, too). Then go for it.
The best way to honour someone you have lost is to live your life they way they would have wanted you to.
Let’s do it.