Monday, January 12, 2015

On one of life's biggest clichés

What are you doing today?

We all know the clichés, "Life is short", and "Live each day like it's your last", or a hundred others like it. Most of us recognize the truth in these statements, but almost none of us ever does anything with that knowledge.

Why not?

If we got news from our doctor tomorrow that we had a week or a month to live, I'd venture a guess that most of us would spend that time dramatically different than all the days leading up to now. If we got news tomorrow that one of our loved ones was in that situation, I'd bet that once again, our behavior would change significantly as we sought to maximize what time we had left with them.

But here's the rub. We often don't get to know when that last day is coming, for us or for those we love. Many times it comes out of the blue, unexpected, unwelcome, and finding us unprepared. The regrets many of us might feel in the aftermath can stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Why is that? Didn't we all read the "life is short" clichés and take them to heart? Don't we already know that any given day could be the last for us or someone we love?

Of course we know. But we can't go through our lives living in the constant state of fear for our well-being and that of those we love. So we settle into our day-to-day routines, working our jobs, cleaning our houses, running our errands. We begin to take our family and friends for granted, because they've been there, and in all likelihood they'll continue to be there.

Until they're not, that is.

I have been alive for 16,253 days. For the vast majority of those, I've had a lot of control over how I wanted to live those days. What have I done with them? How many of those days would I look back at and think, "I spent that time well"? Probably not nearly as many as I'd like, if I'm honest. And here's the thing: I probably fewer days left than what I've already used. How many? Who knows - maybe zero. I could die in an accident on the way home from work today. Or I could live to be 100 years old. Only God knows.

No matter how many days I do have left here on earth, I do spend a lot more time wondering how I can balance maintaining my responsibilities while maximizing the opportunity that each day of life offers us. Because like others who've suddenly and tragically lost a loved one or nearly died themselves, that tragic loss has changed how I view life, death, and how I spend my remaining days.

So, with a different frame of mind I ask you again, what are you doing today?

My advice? Make it good.


Photo credit: 
Author: Hamed Saber Author 
Title: Tehran Sunset Year: 2006 
Source: Flickr 
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License: Creative Commons Attribution License 
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License Shorthand: CC-BY