Imagine that you discovered today that you have exactly 5 years left to live. Not a day more or a day less. There is nothing you can do to change it. You have a half a decade, or 1825 days, or 43,800 hours, or 2,628,000 minutes left on the planet.
Some of you might think this is a silly exercise, because after all, there is no way for anyone to know exactly how many years they have left. That may be true, but it doesn’t change the context of the question, and it certainly doesn’t remove the value of pondering a question like this.
the value of pondering a question
I have been “blessed” in my life with a number of circumstances that shifted my perspective dramatically on what is important and what is not. I say “blessed” in quotations because none of these circumstances felt like blessings at the time. Most of them were the absolute hardest things I ever experienced. Holding my brother in my arms as he took his last conscious breath at the age of 42, walking through breast Cancer with my wife, experiencing the sudden loss of someone close to me or that I knew very well too many times to keep track, are just some of the circumstances that have influenced me.
I would be willing to bet, that learning your life was now measurably dissipating like the sands in an hour glass in front of your eyes, might change a lot in your minute to minute existence.
might change a lot in your minute to minute existence
I bet the stuff you worry about, that causes you stress, and frustration, and anger, and heartache, would become mostly just things you think about in passing, if at all.
I bet the people in your life who have done you wrong, or hurt you in some way, or who disagree with you, or who speak badly about you, would become completely irrelevant to you, and you would just forgive and accept, if you considered them at all.
I bet that most of the material things that seem so important to have would suddenly be mostly meaningless to you.
I bet the things you really like to do or that you have talked about doing (when you have time), you would suddenly be doing, or realize that you really didn’t care about doing those things after all.
I bet the thing that is in your heart to do, you know the thing, the one that you constantly go back to in your mind but haven’t begun yet because of fear or guilt or self-criticism or some other inane reason, is now the thing that moves to the top of your list to invest your “productive” energy in.
I bet the people you love and care about most suddenly become more important to spend time with than any single thing else that exists on the earth.
I bet you treasure each moment you spend doing anything, anywhere, with anyone.
I bet you fully experience each wisp of wind, each blade of green grass, every speck of blue in the sky, every sunset, and everything else in your presence.
I bet you really live.
I point a finger at myself frequently when I lose my perspective, which I do often in my humanity. I have to do it less often now because I am purposeful in living my life in accordance with what is important to me and what I value, while staying true to those in my life that I care about or who rely on me or who I have made a commitment to. But it’s not easy even with a focus on it because the world is a very loud place, screaming in array of voices to get our attention to have us live someone else’s life.
But I have to tell you, just being conscious of the reality that we don’t know how long we are here, and that each day matters, and that life is now, is a step in a direction that you will be really glad you went. So I hope you take some time and consider the question, your answers, and then, especially then, remember that it might as well be true, because we don’t really know….so go ahead…live your answers.
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