I get it. I understand why people say ‘live today like it’s your last’. It’s about seizing the moment and making the most of every second; about taking risks and living life to the fullest. But the reality is, if today truly were your last, you would live it very differently.
You would have no regrets over all the things you hadn’t done, all the goals never attained. Instead, you would focus your attention and precious last moments on your family and loved ones; doing ordinary things like sharing a meal, talking and expressing your deep love for them.
In 2014, I underwent brain surgery to clip an un-ruptured aneurysm. I waited two weeks for the impending op, not knowing for sure what the outcome would be. In that time, everything I had not yet experienced and not yet seen, all those un-accomplished aspirations, seemed really insignificant. I didn’t look back on my life with any regret for things not yet attained. I only wanted to be with my family and close friends. They were all that mattered. And all the immediate things – the noise – going on in my life at the time, the impending work deadlines, the to do lists, the plans, were all periphery.
The immense sense of gratitude one feels is overwhelming. You appreciate having the ability to go for a walk, being able to bathe yourself, cook a meal, and spend quality time with your family. You find a certain contentment and peace in a simple existence. You understand the fragility of life and respect it, and you don’t need to spend your last hours having major experiences to feel satisfied with your life.
On the flip side, with this deep sense of appreciation of how delicate life is, we run the risk of taking it all too seriously sometimes, by discarding everything in our lives we deem to have no purpose or being light-hearted, carefree whimsical and trivial.
But if not a journey, what is life?
Now, if we lived, rather, like today was our first, we would live it like children do. They don’t care if the water’s too cold, the ice-cream too sticky, or the jungle gym too high. They are curious and want to explore, embrace and experience all life has to offer. They want to have fun and try new things. They forgive easily, focus on the moment and do what they love. They trust, they believe in magic and they see the wonder around them in the smallest things. And they never give up. If we, as toddlers, gave up the first time we fell while learning to walk, we’d still all be crawling.
Each and every one of us has endured hardship in our lives; we can all be an example of courage and survival and tenacity through our frivolous spirit, by still having fun, being spontaneous, laughing like a drain, having a sparkle in our eye and seeing the joy in life through our gratitude for each day, our health and the simple things in life.
This passage from the movie, About Time, says it best, I think. It’s the story of a man who has the ability to travel back in time: “The truth is I now don’t travel back at all. Not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life. We’re all travelling through time together every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.”
Whether you live each day like it’s your first… or your last… live it with appreciation. It’s a gift. And savour the ‘extraordinary in the ordinary’.