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Making today count

For a while now I have been thinking about how I would answer a particular question. This is no ordinary question. It is one with far reaching consequences. This question relates to something that faces every single human being whether we want to acknowledge this fact or not. We cannot negotiate our way out of this or buy our way out. Nothing we do will spare us from this one inevitable event in our lives. Many choose to ignore this reality. Others become overly obsessed by it. Then there are those people who take a stance in-between these two extremes. They realise the importance of living every moment of every day with intention and experiencing everything as fully as possible because one day it will matter – to them, to their family, to their friends, and to anyone else whose life they may have touched.

Are you wondering yet what this all important question is or have you worked it out?

The question I am thinking about, and searching for an answer to, is:

What would I be doing if I knew today was my last day alive on earth?

I can hear you saying, “That’s a bit heavy”. Yet is it?

As I grapple with daily life I have come to question whether or not this is how I want to spend my days, especially my last day of life on earth. Am I living my life the way I want to be living it? What do I like about my life? What don’t I like about it? What can I change? How do I go about changing it?

My dream is to live authentically, without regrets, and to know I made the most of every opportunity I sought out or that was presented to me. I’d love to think that in some small way I may have even made a difference somewhere along the way. I want to be able to say ‘I am living’ as opposed to ‘I am the living dead’. I want to fully experience the remarkable in the ordinary. I want to be aware of everyone and everything. I want to love and be loved. I want to be happy and at peace in mind, body and spirit.

As I write all this I sit here wondering am I achieving any of this?

Patti Digh has based her well known blog 37 Days around answering a similar question, What would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live? She has set a time limit around her thinking because it is connected to her personal experience of her stepfather being diagnosed with lung cancer and dying 37 days later. Patti’s answer to her question is as follows:

Write like hell, leave as much of myself behind for my two daughters as I could, let them know me and see me as a real person, not just a mother, leave with them for safe-keeping my thoughts and memories, fears and dreams, the histories of what I am and who my people are. Leave behind my thoughts about living the life, that “one wild and precious life” that poet Mary Oliver speaks of. That’s what I’d do with my 37 days. So, I’m beginning here.

Patti not only answered her question she acted on it. She has written in her blog and now she has produced a book of her stories, Life Is a Verb, as a legacy to her daughters.

The world headquarters of the verb

Unfortunately many of us tend to be complacent about the way we live our lives. We don’t think anything will happen to us; we consider ourselves reasonably invincible. Most of us tend to bumble along from one thing to the next and hope it will all work out. Taking time to plan what it is we want and how we want to live never seems much of a priority. That is until something happens: to us, to a loved one, to someone we don’t know but who may have touched our lives in some way. Suddenly we find ourselves sitting up and taking notice.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I was catching up with a close friend. As we were talking she told me how she had had a health scare. A recent mammogram had revealed a lump in her breast. Fortunately it turned out to be benign.

“I don’t know why I thought this couldn’t happen to me”, she said to me. This comment made me stop and think. How right she was.

Then this morning I was going through my emails and catching up on my blog reading. A colleague had sent me a link to a blog she thought I might be interested in and she was right, I was! As I read about Anna Woolf’s plight as she comes to terms with her terminal cancer diagnosis I was yet again reminded of the importance of living intentionally and not wasting precious time. We all think, or at least hope, ‘it’ won’t happen to us but what do we do when it is our turn; when our number has been called. Are we ever ready for our last day?

Knowing that you are about to die is the strangest thing to live through. All situations and conversations take on completely different meanings.

… [such as] suddenly lacking sympathy towards others problems. It’s so disappointing that people can’t be happy with their lives – it’s hard not to say “just shut up (or something stronger) and enjoy your life”. And even if I did say this it wouldn’t make any difference.

Annie Fox blog, Wednesday 6 August 2008, Strange things

Now back to the original question: What would I be doing if I knew today was my last day alive on earth?

I realised I couldn’t answer this question easily because there are too many variables and too many unknowns about that last day or even the days beforehand. However I can imagine how I would like to be feeling on my last day. I have expressed that in the poem below. Above all else I want to be able to say goodbye to my husband, my children and the rest of my family and friends. I need them to know how important they are to me and how much they have enriched my life.

Let's make every day count

Making today count

My last breath is close.
With it my physical presence in this beautiful land,
the land of my heart and soul,
will cease.

I will still be here.
I will live on because of how I lived and what I did.
I have made sure of that.
I have done all I needed to do,
I even surprised myself.

I have:
expressed my love openly,
lived my life honestly,
been there for others,
respected everyone for who they are, as they are,
helped and supported as needed.
I have no regrets.
I have taught what I know
and learnt what I didn’t.
I have shared what I had to give
and received so much more in return.
I have lived in a way that has expressed the essence of me.

I leave you with memories
should I fade in your mind.
My journals.
My writing.
My photos.
My online artifacts.
My handiwork.
Messages as reminders.
The stories of my life.

Living in the moment.
Our gift to each other.
Experiencing all life throws us.
Catching it,
holding it close.
Perfect in its imperfection.

Here I am ready to leave
In an ordinary moment
On an ordinary day
Creating something uniquely extraordinary.

I feel a calm
A sense of inevitability
I am prepared
I won’t be happy to be leaving you
Yet I know it is time.
You will all have my heart within you
It will sing alongside you with every breath you take,
as you go about making today count.

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One Response to “Making today count”

  1. […] a recent post I wrote about making every day count because life is precious and we never know when it might end. Today I came across this song by […]

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