I woke up yesterday knowing that I would be writing this post. I didn’t have any idea what it was going to be about. But I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a message was here within me and needed to be expressed. And as I sat in the park to write it, the thought came to me: even if this were to be my last day on earth, I am just so thankful for this life, and I have so much to be thankful for.
So I decided to play with this idea. What if today actually was my last day?
The first thing that comes to mind is that it technically could be my last day. There are plenty of ways (traffic alone) that I interact with daily, wherein the illusion of safety within which I live could come to an abrupt end. But for this post, I chose not to focus on these details and instead to dive into the experience of living my last day knowing it would be my last.
So how much time do I have? For the sake of arbitrary specificity, let’s say that midnight is the deadline. At 12 AM, I’m done. Wrap things up, because one way or another, like it or not, I’m taking a one-way trip outta here.
Let’s also say that after waking, showering, and eating breakfast, at 9 AM, I receive the news. Let’s say I get an irrefutable divine message, giving me the heads-up. So, after the initial shock wears off, I check the time, and realize that already, I’m down to 15 hours left. 15 hours. Wow. How many times have I completely wasted 15 hours with some nonsense like a working a job, or watching TV, or playing video games, or surfing the internet? And now 15 hours is all I have remaining? The clock is ticking.
As I am not religious, and I’ve come to trust my own spiritual relationship with the creator, I would personally waste no time bargaining for more time in this physical life, nor fretting about the fate of my immortal soul. We may change forms, but we will always exist. Physically, we all come and go, I believe by design, and so long as I am here, I’m going to focus here. When I am “There” I will concern myself with whatever “There” is all about. I began this day in thankfulness, and gratitude would be my constant companion on this, my last day. I was given the gift of another day, and it would be an insult to the Universe not to make the most of it.
On that note, with so few hours remaining to me, I would not choose to waste them attempting to get some place “special,” fighting traffic or slogging through airport security lines. No thank you. I would keep things local.
Perhaps, if I was so lucky, this day would come on a day in which I would be acting. If that were the case, I would relish the gift of giving my own farewell performance, with the divine knowledge of it being just that. Ideally, I would have some potentially gut-wrenching scene to do that day, and I would do so (as I have many times before) with the passion and the commitment and the gusto that makes me worthy of being there at all. I would hold nothing back. I would leave everything I had, everything I am on those frames of film. I would pour my life into that performance, and later, those who saw it would hear my soul speaking to them from beyond the grave.
But shoot days can typically be 12 to 15 hours all by themselves, and today, I don’t have that kind of time. They wouldn’t have me tomorrow – and there was nothing I could do about that. In fact, even if this were the start of my filming day, I would simply have to leave after giving this performance. My deepest apologies to the cast and crew, my love and heartfelt appreciation to them, but I had to attend to a matter of life and death. And off I would go.
Whether or not I’d be acting on this day, I’d want one more chance to share my ideas, much as I do now. In fact, I would be tempted to spend the whole remaining amount of my time writing, pouring out my thoughts, getting my perspective down on paper in a last-ditch effort to make up for lost time. But no matter how many straight hours that I might spend writing, much like taking a written exam in school, it would eventually and inevitably come to an abrupt end.
“Time’s up. Pencils down.”
So, for the sake of living my last day in the most balanced way possible, as best as I could manage anyway, I would forego the all-day writing spree and instead give myself, say, three hours. That’s it. Whatever I had to say, I was giving myself three hours to say it. Then, I would make my peace with my worldly body of work, and I would let go of ever writing another word. In a few short hours, I would have to do that anyway, so why not enjoy it? Why not give thanks for the rich experience that writing has offered me?
Seriously, what a gift it has been-to be able to read and write-to communicate so deeply-to be able to say what I wanted to say. What a blessing to be able to shape this language and forge human bonds and have diverse experiences with the people of this world and to nurture and hone my relationship to them! An amazing gift. But I can’t take it with me.
I would, as best as possible, arrange for my works to be shared, preferably in such a way that my fiancé and my family would derive some benefit, as well as all who connected with them. But leaving a legacy of my works, at least today, is not my highest priority either.
I’d want to say goodbye to my loved ones. I’d want to call as many members of my family that I actually could (since most of them live out of state), just to thank them, just to tell them how much I appreciate them and all that they have shared with me in this life. I’d want to tell them how much fun it all had been with them, even if at the time, or in the moment, certain circumstances may not have felt like much fun at all.
I’d want them to know that life is precious. I’d want them to know that every second counts. I’d want them to know that they matter, that their perspective matters. Many of them wouldn’t hear me, I’m sure, but I would try to say these things to them in a way that they might, in a way that could give them what perhaps they felt was lacking in their lives.
Sure, once I was gone, they’d reflect back on these things, and probably blame themselves for not saying more to me-maybe they’d even think they could have somehow stopped my inevitable passing. But they could not. When it is our time, no one can. I’d hope they wouldn’t waste any of their time with such nonsense. I’d hope they would never decide to feel guilt or blame when they think of me. I’d want them to know their conscience was clear, and that their hearts were free. And that I love them very much.
I’d want them to know that no so-called authority in their lives had more wisdom, more clarity, more relevant knowledge for their own life than they did themselves. And that maybe they could stand to stop listening to others when it came to making decisions (especially important, impactful ones) in their own lives. I’d want them to know that their own heart is the only guide they would ever, ever need.
But all of that could take years, decades, maybe even a lifetime to get across to them effectively. And today, I simply don’t have that kind of time. If I’m honest, I know there’s no way I could knowingly make these last calls to all my family in under three hours. Add in my best friend, and my other friends, and there goes at least another two. So that’s five hours to speak with everyone that really matters to me in this world, and tell them that I love them. That’s going to be challenging. But not everyone gets that chance at all.
I would smile at every single person I met-regardless of whatever they might be doing or saying. I would greet them with gratitude for the reflection they showed up in my life to be. I would bask in the “he must be crazy” looks I would receive. And I would hug the ones who were willing.
The rest of my time I would spend with my fiancé. The question comes-do I even tell her? I doubt I would tell my family in this set of circumstances-why make them worry? But my fiancé-our lives are deeply, deeply intertwined. And while my heart swells with my desire to marry her, now, today, I would leave that up to her. Perhaps I’d frame it as a hypothetical situation. Regardless, she and I are already deeply bonded, and I would not be so selfish as to put her through the efforts of a ceremony only to lose me a few hours later. And while I know our bond would continue beyond this transition, my passing – our physical separation – will affect us both profoundly. I can’t change that.
But as far as my last day goes, as difficult as it would be, I would save this discussion with her for perhaps the last two hours. I would want us to discuss it, give her a proper chance to say goodbye as I had been given. She is highly intuitive, and no doubt would feel something big was coming, so this would only confirm what she somehow already knew. But I wouldn’t want to hinder the entire day, our last several hours of shared physical experiences, under the heavy weight of grief. I would much rather the both of us share the heights of joy on this earthly plane while we still could. I would take her dancing. I would take her to a comedy show. I would take her to the park. I would take her to the beach. I would take her to the best restaurant I could imagine bringing her to, and I would spend my last dollar on her.
I would hold her and touch her and kiss her and massage her and make love to her with the full knowing that I would never, ever get to do so again.
I would savor the experience of being with her as I never had done before. I would talk with her for hours, like we do so very often. I would encourage her to have faith and courage in her life, to live without fear or regrets, and to spit in the face of any person, idea, or belief that told her she was one grain of sand less than the magnificent being that she truly is.
I would tell her that she is enough; enough for the challenges she faces, enough to accomplish the dreams she has, enough to be the fearless spirit I know that she really is. I would tell her, over and over, how beautiful she is-like I do every day-and I would not stop until she believed it herself. And then I’d tell her again.
I would tell her that I love her a few dozen times, like I do every day, and I would tell her not to wait. I would tell her not to wait.
I would tell her not to wait.
This world, this life, is such a gift. And it can be so easy for us to lose sight of this. So easy. We all know that none of us gets out of this alive. None of us gets to be the first person to live forever in this physical form. This life just wasn’t set up that way.
If this day is my last, then I don’t know it yet. But it could be. We all know today could be that day. And if I live like that’s the case, then there are some things I know I won’t be doing today. Things I wouldn’t give one more second of my time to ever, ever again. Time is precious. Whatever is most important to us won’t be available to us forever-not in this physical life anyway. So why not get to them today, this hour, this very minute?
Tick tock…Tick tock.