“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” -James Dean
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” -Mohandas Gandhi
If you were to somehow learn, without a doubt, that you had only a certain amount of time left to live, what, if anything, would you do differently?
I think that if I were truly to find out that I only had a limited amount of time to live, I would do many things differently. To start, I think the way I approach each day would be different. I imagine that my attitude towards people or towards most things might change in some ways. But my full answer (which I haven’t yet written) to the question above bothers me in some ways. First and foremost, it disturbs me that the life I imagine in such a scenario is so drastically different from the way that my life is now.
In this hypothetical situation, the changes I think would happen would be primarily geared to force myself to really block out any of the many annoyances that one might find in any given day, to filter out distractions and focus on things I’ve considered important. In short, I think that I would be finally forced to try as hard as possible to live life to the fullest that I can imagine it. And so my answer bothers me because it tells me a lot of things that I’m not doing right now.
If there’s anything I’m sure would change if my days were suddenly numbered, it would be that I wouldn’t play any more videogames or watch movies, unless it were with friends. I think that I would do a lot less worrying, which seems paradoxical in some way, but makes sense (at least to me) when you consider that there shouldn’t be real cause to worry about things known for sure. I think that I would be less bothered by any daily annoyances, less bothered by anything having to do with my family, and generally more tolerant of some things in the world. So basically, if I were to find my days numbered, I would worry less, I would appreciate my family and friends more, I would be less hesitant and more confident, and really…I think I would be really able to ‘live’ most of my last days more than I’ve really “lived” the majority of my previous years (with the exception of some notable occasions). Those ‘notable occasions’ prove my point–those occasions were usually the times where I was most immersed in what I was doing, focusing on things at hand and on enjoying each moment instead of worrying about the future or needlessly stressing over things that really aren’t worth stressing over.
I had come to the conclusion, years back, that most things weren’t worth stressing over–that ultimately, whether or not a given issue affected a person was solely the choice of that person–but I think somewhere in the last year or so, I had forgotten to not care. I think, while trying to care more about things, I forgot to not care about the things that I shouldn’t let affect me, to ignore the things that aren’t worth spending time or energy worrying about. Seems like the things I shouldn’t care about are about as important as the things I should care about.
I wonder how difficult it might be to change the way a person lives. By that, I suppose I mean I wonder how I might go from the semi-life that I live to really living each day to the fullest. I guess huge changes aren’t easy once a person’s settled into a comfortable routine, but I won’t quite lose all hope that change can happen.
So I’ll work on caring less, and caring more…trying to live a little bit more.