Living as if tomorrow is your last day?Sun, 2nd Mar '08, 12:35 am::
It always bothers me when people say you have to live your life as if tomorrow is your last day. That's because if tomorrow is my last day, there are many things I will do that I would certainly regret if I'm alive on the day after tomorrow. Given just twenty-four hours to live, most people including yours truly, will just party non-stop for as long as they can and then retreat into delirious seclusion because of the immediate threat of death. Living your life as if you're going to be dead before the next mortgage payment comes up is pretty irresponsible and not a good motto to live by. On the flip side, living as if you have all the time in the world to do everything you want just makes you lazy and procrastinate without ever accomplishing anything.
People are bad at making 5-10-15 year life-plans and except for a very few people (like med-school students and retirees), nobody knows where they'll be in a couple of years. What made me think about the appropriate length of the ticking-death-clock is a mention of Prof. Randy Pausch online. About six months ago I watched his moving "Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon" online. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2006 and given three to six months to live. His last lecture was in September 2007 and thankfully, he is still vigorous and active till date. Here's a brilliant, energetic family man who has lived the last 18 months thinking he'll die within the next three months. And to top it off, he has went on to accomplish his childhood dreams (like practicing with his favorite sports team and getting a talking role in the next Star Trek movie) as well as ensuring his wife and kids have wonderful memories of him.
In a span of three to six months, you can do a lot. Travel across a continent, write a book, build a swimming pool for the kids, and go on a long road trip with your best friend. You can live each day to the fullest while not driving the people you leave behind crazy. This is quite achievable and exciting if you think about it. Today is March 2nd. If everything you ever wanted to do, had to be done by September 2nd, what would you do and when? No, you can't wait till Christmas. You can't put off going skiing till November. You don't have infinite money and your savings aren't enough to support six months of bills on top of all the fun you want to have. That means, you have to keep your job, you have to continue to pay auto insurance, and you have to be responsible about your actions. All this, while the six-month clock is ticking.
I can't imagine what Prof. Pausch is going through, especially with the chemotherapy treatments and tremendous media exposure, but I know it in my heart that whenever he hugs his wife and kids, he does it like a man who has three months to live and wants to make every moment of it memorable for the ones he leaves behind.