December 12, 2014

How to Deal With Life’s Unknown Deadline.

carpe diem

“May you live all the days of your life.” ~ Jonathan Swift

What if our birth certificates came with an expiry date—as in, a date on which our life would end—so that we know exactly how much time we have to live?

It’s a lottery after all.

Some of us have decades, and some of us just have hours. Would it be a help or a hindrance if we knew from the word go when we’d be departing?

I’ve been mulling this over lately. It was triggered by the sad news of the sudden death of someone who really knew how to live. I don’t often have that reflection about someone who’s just passed (he really knew how to live)!

We’re all so busy dealing with our day to day dilemmas, struggling with our fears, our trials and tribulations (both real and imagined) that we forget to focus on living our best lives.

Or maybe the problem is that we’re not clear enough on what constitutes living our best lives?

Mixed up priorities, stemming from social (and commercial) conditioning.

It might seem morbid to some, but I think that if we knew exactly how much time we were granted in this lifetime, we’d approach things differently. And maybe this idea appeals to me because I’m a deadline-oriented person.

Deadlines get me focussed. When a deadline looms I get shit done. So I know an expiry date would help me be more focussed on living my best life.

But the truth is that I do have a deadline. And so do you. There is a time, out there in the future, when our existence in our current physical form will end. The only snag is that we don’t know what the deadline is.

And because we don’t know it, we tend not to be mindful of it.

Even though we all know that life can come to an abrupt halt, we don’t seem to truly grasp the reality of that fact. Unwilling to face our own mortality, we shrug off that awareness and live our lives as if we have all the time in the world.

We keep postponing happiness, contentment, fulfilment until a later date. When we’ve got our shit together. When we’re more financially secure. When we’ve met the love of our life. When we’ve raised our children.

When ________ (fill in the blank).

But we don’t have all the time in the world. We are all going to die someday. Maybe today. Maybe not today.

We never know, when we wake up in the morning, if today is our expiry date. It might be.

What if our birth certificates did come with an expiry date? And what if the expiry date were today? Would you live today differently than you would if that date were for this day next year?

I know I would.

But we don’t know. And there is only one answer to the not-knowing:

Every day, spend some time doing something that makes your heart sing. Don’t waste a single day. Do whatever is within your capabilities today to feel good and feel glad to be alive.

“Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.” ~ Horace

I’m not saying to ignore day to day responsibilities. But we can find a way to balance what we have to do (in the event that we do live past today), with what we would do if we knew today was our last.

Because, just maybe, today might be the day that we die. All of our lives are ticking clocks.

So, carpe the diem out of it!



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Author: Hilda Carroll

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: elephant archives

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