I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying:
Live each day like it is your last; for one day, you’re sure to be right.
It’s usually accompanied by a heart-wrenching story of a life taken too soon. An every day person, like you or me, who didn’t have the chance to realise their dreams or goals before passing. Perhaps someone who didn’t live their life to the full because they were too busy or stressed or trapped or scared to experience what it was they really wanted out of life. Or someone who did, but their time was cut short.
It’s supposed to stir up feelings that make you want to live life to the fullest, get out there and do what you’ve always wanted to do, achieve what you’ve always want to achieve. Before it’s too late…
If you got hit by a bus tomorrow would you be happy with the life you’d lived so far? Did you tell your family you loved them when you left for work this morning? Did that story you always wanted to write get written? Did you travel the world, jump out of a plane, seize every day by its throat?
Imagine… you’re going to die tomorrow
Of course, it’s not really practical to live every day like there’s no tomorrow, although it might sure be fun for a while. No consequences? Just imagine. But surely the pace would soon wear you out. And let’s be honest, absolutely nothing mundane would ever get accomplished. I mean, who would want to clean, or sleep, go to the dentist or do the weekly food shop? I can just see it now:
‘Darling, do you think you could take the bins out?’
‘Uh… sorry love, no can do. I’m off for a morning bungee. Might not be here tomorrow.’
No. Although I’m sure whoever originally said this maxim had the best intentions at heart, it is actually quite ridiculous. And – from a personal perspective – it’s debilitating. And morbid. And depressing.
To think you might actually die tomorrow. To feel like you’re on a time limit. To look at your children like this is the last time you’ll see their little faces. To imagine what it would be like NOT to wake up.
Who wants to live like that? Who wants to imagine the worst? Not me.
A new day
When I opened my eyes after a recent operation (nothing too serious, but enough to cause me some anxiety), I was so thankful when I woke up. It felt like the day ahead was my first. And that was an amazing feeling. I knew in that moment I had my life ahead of me. My family would be with me, and my dreams could still be fulfilled.
I felt renewed, hopeful, excited, and grateful. I felt loved, I felt motivated, I felt free. I wasn’t worried about how clean the house was, or if the bills were paid, or when I’d have time to finish my novel. I was just living for that moment. And excited for all the moments to come.
Compared to the days leading up to the op – worrying about not coming home, the hospital finding something serious that would mean my number was up – it was awful, not liberating at all. I felt so much better without that weight on my shoulders. And perhaps a little less convinced I could predict my own death.
After all, we have all been given the gift of life here on Earth, and – now I’m through the anxiety – I can see no real reason to be afraid of when it will end, or if that time will come too soon. We have no control over it, so let it be.
Let it hover in front of you, without it weighing you down. Let it guide you, but not control you. Live each day with purpose, not burden. For we all have a purpose and – I believe – a chance to fulfil that purpose. And if we are taken away too soon, perhaps we can succeed in the next life.
So, I wanted to share with you that feeling I had in the hospital, and also some ideas for how to live each day like it is your first. Because surely your first day on earth is much better than your last…
Start a new project… no matter how long you think it will take
So you’ve always wanted to write a book? Run your own business? Open a cafe on the beach? Even if you think there’s no way you’ll have the time to see it through, at least start it. Start it today. Go on! Pick up that pen and paper, get working on that business plan, gather some research.
And so what if it sits there for a week, a month, a year; at least you’ll have started it, and one day you will finish it. Because it’s your dream, right? It will be enjoyable to see it through. It’s not like you’ll have to drag yourself away from something that’s more enjoyable. So, no more excuses.
You think you’re too old? No! It’s never too late to start. Never. What about Australia’s oldest graduate, 93-year-old Dr. Lis Kirkby? Or author, Lorna Page, who wrote her raunchy debut novel at 93 years of age? 93 certainly seems like it’s the age to be!
Take a really long bath (and I mean really long; there’s no need to rush)
When was the last time you had a long, relaxing bath? And I mean the whole works – with oils and candles and music and a glass of good wine. Maybe you’ve thought about it, but then forgotten again. Maybe you don’t do it because you feel guilty for taking time out for yourself. Maybe you think you don’t have enough time when there are lunches to prepare for the next day, or the house to clean, or the dog to walk.
But those jobs will always be there, and you will get them done at some point. You know you will. So why not put them off for a little while? Why not say ‘stuff it’, and go and treat yourself? Ask your partner to hold the fort. And when you’re lying in your bed of bubbles, switch off from the to-do list and enjoy the moment, the sensations, the relaxation. Take your mind on a journey, or just focus on the music.
And for goodness sake, don’t feel guilty when you emerge an hour (or two!) later, feeling wonderful (and very wrinkled). You deserve it! Hell yeah.
Make a new family tradition
Do you have fond memories of a family tradition? Perhaps eating ‘bubble and squeak’ on Boxing Day? Family walks on Sunday afternoons? Breakfast in bed on Saturdays? Traditions make you feel secure; they keep the family together; they evoke connotations of your life ahead — that you’ll be doing this together and forever.
Why not create a new one? Perhaps a bedtime story routine, or a family games night? A secret handshake, or crazy dancing to loud music on Friday nights? It’s nice to look to the future and see yourself in it with those you love.
So, on each new day we wake, let us try to:
Live like we have a future. Live like we can accomplish anything. Live purposefully and with a calm intent. And most importantly:
Live each day like it’s your first…
Tell me how you go, and good luck 🙂