Not too long ago, I lost someone I used to know. We were not close, but his death hit me in a way I could not understand and, therefore, cannot explain. Was it how he died or the young age at which he was taken away from this world? Maybe both. Nevertheless, one thing I know for sure is that this situation got me thinking; live while you still can.
We are told that no one promises you tomorrow, yet we dismissively use this statement without any thought to address it with the seriousness that it commands. I learned a long time ago that procrastination is arrogantly assuming that there would be tomorrow, the next hour, or the next minute; yet, I still do it. I go about my day sure that I would have a second chance tomorrow, that I would sleep and definitely wake up, and that I’ll be able to live the 24hr cycle all over again. It is my faith in my Creator that keeps me going, but I am aware that things happen. We can never be 100% certain of tomorrow, the next hour or the next minute. Things beyond your control take place. People do things that you do not expect, and the places you used to feel safe in might not be anymore.
All around me, I hear the news of people dying: friends of friends, family members of friends, friends of family members, even strangers, and this can only be a microscopic fraction of the people that leave the earth. According to the Bioethics Research Library of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, 65 million people die every year; this amounts to 178,000 each day, 7,425 each hour and 120 each minute. This is unsurprising, seeing as death comes for us all, yet the rate at which it seems to take away loved ones, friends, acquaintances and strangers is alarming.
Here is what I want to talk about: If we are not promised the future, why don’t we make the moments we already have count? Why don’t we live like there won’t be a tomorrow? How much time do we want to pass us by before we actually start living, before we start doing the things that actually matter and making our life here on earth mean something? Right now, are you living a life you are proud of? If you were to pass away, will your absence be noticed, will you be missed, or will you be easily forgotten? What would people have to say about you?
You know, this death topic goes both ways: What if you lose someone you love or someone you used to know today? Would you have regrets? Would there be something you wish you had done to and for them? Would there be something you wish you had said or hurts you wish you had forgiven? Would you wish you had apologized for what you did wrong and that you could take back the words you said? The poem ‘When great trees fall’ by Maya Angelou is a beautiful read; check it out.
This may seem dark, seeing as no one wants to die now or lose someone very dear to them and that is understandable, but what if living with the consciousness that you are not deathless makes you take your mortality more serious and be more conscious that we can’t just let life pass us by.
I want you to come along with me; let us think about some things and check if we are actually living, and if this world, even just a tiny part of it, has felt our presence and that maybe, just maybe, even if the sun does not refuse to rise because we are no more or if the earth does not stop its revolution around the sun at our loss or an earthquake does not announce our absence, we would still have mattered to some people or someone, enough to halt their life just a while and live on in their memories. Let’s start.
1. Do you tell the ones you love that you love them at every chance you get? What if the last time you did is the last time you could have? Tell them.
2. Are you on bad terms with anyone? Is there someone out there who needs your forgiveness, or is there someone’s forgiveness that you need? Forgive them or apologize.
3. If you are religiously inclined, are you at peace with your Creator?
4. You have dreams; are you living them out? Are you sharing your gifts? Out there in the world is a void you are to fill. Fill it.
5. Do you have friends that you love and who love you? Do you make meaningful connections? Humans were not made to be islands; you need people, and people need you. Do not leave earth and have no one that remembers you. Forge relationships.
6. Are there places you want to go and things you want to do? Are you making plans to do them? Start making plans.
7. What kind of a person would people say you are? Do you like their opinion of you? Now is the time to change it. Write the story people will say about you when you are gone. Touch lives.
Do not spend today worrying about tomorrow, or else you will end up having many wasted yesterdays. Take one day at a time and live it to the fullest. Tomorrow isn’t always guaranteed, and you only get a today once. Don’t live today thinking you’ll have tomorrow to sort out what you could’ve done today. You are alive now; live! People have lost their chance to live, but you still have yours. Do not wait until it is too late. Life is too short to live it with regrets, to leave words unsaid, to leave feelings hidden, to leave wounds open, to leave dreams as dreams, to leave lives untouched, to leave your purpose unfulfilled or to leave this earth without a tiny bit of your imprint, even in one person. You only live once; live while you still can.
– Omoyemen Aisuodionoe-Shadrach