Saturday, August 14, 2010

If Today were Your Last Day ... What?

So I have a second job at Starbucks. I read this magazine on an airplane a couple of months ago that featured Mike Rowe, and pretty much anything he tells me, I believe. He talked a lot about the value of work and the fact that many of us Americans expect to get through life without working too hard. Physical labor especially gets devalued in our minds as a lesser profession. 

I also read a supplemental article in the same magazine that talked about how sometimes a part-time job can really help blow off extra steam and clear your head for your full-time job -- my interpretation. Now I'm sure there are some cons, as well; such as it can make you feel more tired or as though you have no time for yourself. I always have those problems, however, and strangely enough, I don't think working two jobs has made it any more intense. Now I just have scheduled time that I get paid to hang out with some really cool people while cleaning stuff and making coffee. 

Today on my lunch break Michael and I started really dwelling on the fact that none of us knows our number of days. Our lives could end at any point. It could be something that we find out about ahead of time, or it could be sudden. Whether it's a terminal illness, an accident, the end of the world, or nuclear warfare, we know that we are not guaranteed a certain length of life. We wondered aloud together what we would do differently if we awoke each morning and said, "Thank you God for this day, potentially my last day. Let me live it as if it were my last chance to live"? We could think of priorities that would shift, and changes that we'd make in the way we spend our free time.

An important condition that I place on this question is that you can't change your circumstances at all. You can't change your job, your location, your friends -- you can't suddenly morph yourself into your dream life and do everything on your bucket list. You can't suddenly become immensely impressed with yourself. You only have one day, and you are who you are. Today. That's the only way to make it real.

So tonight I put it to my coworkers to answer this same question for me. One said that he would sell everything he has and give all his money to a homeless man. 

Another said that he would cut work and spend the day at home with his family talking about the things that really needed to be said. 

I asked them, wouldn't it be counterproductive to tell your loved ones that you're on your last day, because if they knew they'd be too stunned to really engage in the moment of pure honesty you'd be trying to create? They'd be all busy blubbering and worrying about the fact that they wouldn't see you again. Would the communication be as effective if they knew what was up?

I think if I had my way, I'd be the only one who knew and I would just change my outlook and my attitudes toward the people I met. 

It would be all about love. I would not want to send any negative messages to anyone. I would not waste my time on anything stupid or petty, or trying to entertain myself. None of that would be necessary anymore. It would be about sending positive, encouraging thoughts to everyone I met. I might have to be brutally honest with some people about how much I care about them. Some people whose approval I've long sought, I would find surprisingly easy to suddenly forget. I might spend quite a bit of time preparing my soul. I don't think I would be afraid. I would be nervous, but not afraid. 

It would be difficult to think about how many moments I have already wasted, but there would be no time left for regrets. I would only be available to seize the present day and move forward.

What would you do? How would your life change? Can you see your life changing if you start to incorporate the fact that this day could be your last day?

*I know this is not an original concept, but there are moments when the unoriginal suddenly hits home, and I guess I'm having one now.

1 comment:

zauberfisch said...

It's how I spend every day. Each day is a gift, and each day is my last. Makes people a bit more precious than they think.