You are dying. Did I get your attention? I’m sure I did, because it’s the truth. Actually, partly true because we are living AND dying at the same time; life is the ultimate dichotomy. It has been estimated that the average person will live around 25,000 to 28,000 days (Kind of seems shorter than you thought, eh?).
Let’s begin with these obvious 3 facts:
Our time on the planet is limited.
We cannot predict in advanced when our time will come.
There are no guarantees in life.
“Oh, thanks Pete! Like we didn’t know!” you say, as you read these words while shaking your head. Before you completely write me off, here me out: I say these things in order to remind you of how lucky and fortunate you are.
Right now, this very minute, you have a choice of HOW you choose to use each day you’re alive. Since you know your days are limited, but don’t know when they will end, ask yourself: What is important to me that I’ve been putting off, or what am I taking for granted?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living that we sometimes forget what matters most to us: life purpose, contribution, time with family, making a difference, enjoying life.
If your doctor told you that you had one year to live, would you still only call your mom once a month? Would you make more time to go on vacation with your family? Would you continue to work a job you dislike? Would you try to make your son’s baseball games more often? Would you hoard all your money instead of enjoying some of the fruits of your labor?
See, the thing is, when you think about your own death, life becomes more precious. You start to realize what your priorities are instead of getting caught up in the trivial unimportant.
A few years ago, my wife was diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative breast cancer, and while she was going through multiple surgeries and treatments for over a year straight, my focus shifted from material gain to spending time with her and praying that she would get better. I never totally took her for granted, but I realized I wasn’t putting in the effort our relationship deserved until she got sick. I got “caught up” in daily living. Thankfully, my wife is cancer-free now and has been for over 2 years, but that experience and facing the reality of our own mortality was an eye-opener. Now I make sure we go on the vacations that I used to put off because of work. Now I tell her I love her more often. Now I listen to every word she says instead of checking my emails on my phone. Now I am truly grateful.
Here is a personal exercise I started doing that I want you to try. It’s going to sound a little weird, but I want you to do it. Even if you think I’m nuts, please just give it a shot because it will change your life.
If it’s a nice day, go visit your local cemetery. You can go on your lunch break, or on a weekend- but GO ALONE. Walk around; take a look at the names on the tombstones; look at the date of births and the date of deaths. Look how far back the dates go. Some of these people lived to a ripe old age. Others didn’t live long at all. But, these people were once alive, just like you. Remind yourself that one day, you too, will be joining them. The only difference is: THIS IS YOUR TIME TO LIVE. THIS IS YOUR TIME TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. THIS IS YOUR TIME TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR LIFE.
Now tell me. How do you choose to live?