Living Today - We Don't Have Forever
Updated: Nov 22, 2022
“Live this day like it’s your last.”
Well, that is obviously a bit of a provocative statement.
Maybe you shouldn’t exactly live every day like it was your last. But then again, maybe you should.
It depends on how we interpret it. In any way, what is true, is that we often postpone life to some point in the future.
We don’t do the things we’ve always wanted to do, because we tell ourselves we can do them tomorrow.
But tomorrow can easily turn into a few months, and a few months suddenly turn into a year, a year in a decade and before we know it, we’re 75 and we’ve never done that thing.
There is a big trap in life. The trap that we think we have forever.
In our heads we think we still have time to do the things we want later. We tell ourselves things like “Maybe next year, when I have my degree.” “Maybe in a few years, when I have more working experience.” “Maybe in ten years, when the kids are out of house.” “Maybe when I’m finally retired.”
These maybes may be true. But they also may be huge excuses we tell ourselves and which ultimately hold us back from the lives we want to live.
In my last post I’ve already talked about what I learnt from being away one year. I want to add one more important thing to that:
When realizing that something comes to an end, it’s easier to make the most out of it.
In other words, when I consciously note that a certain time will come to an end, it’s easier for me to be more aware and to appreciate things.
I’ve traveled for about 10 months with an open end date, not knowing when to return to Germany. During this time, I often fell into the trap of thinking I have forever.
I thought I still have plenty of time to do the cool things tomorrow. So, I often decided to go to bed and read instead of putting myself out there and talk to people. I decided to sleep in instead of going for a sunrise surf.
However, this changed drastically when I decided to book a flight home to see my family and friends.
It not only gave me a joyful anticipation for the future, but it also changed my current life. It was like a switch suddenly turned in my head. I realized “Okay. I have exactly eight weeks left. So, let’s make the most of it.”
This was certainly not the first time. It was like this every single time I went traveling. It was also the case when I lived in another city right before I left it. There has been always one universal truth:
The last weeks were always the best.
In his Ted Talk “Kill your bucket list” Edward-Readicker-Henderson talks about exactly this phenomenon.
He was diagnosed with an incurable illness and was told by doctors that he only had a few more months to live. So, what did he do?
He decided to make the most out of his last few months. He traveled, he explored, he went to see the world. He only had a little time left, so he was questioning himself why not make the most out of it.
And every time he returned to see a doctor, he was told over and over again that he only had a few more months to live. Well, it turned out that – against all odds – he lived for many more years.
All spending his time traveling, living the life he always wanted to live.
I don’t say we should all quit our jobs and venture off to do the crazy stuff we always wanted to do. That is one approach, but rather an extreme one. And extremes are never an optimal solution in the long run…
But maybe, we can start small. Deciding to go out and meeting some friends instead of watching a movie. Talking to that stranger and wish him a good day. Telling the people we love how we really think and feel.
Or as one of my favorite book authors Paulo Coelho put it: “Life is short. There is no time to leave important words unsaid.”
Finally, let me make one thing clear.
I know that life can be complex, and we are all dealt different cards. I am also aware of how cliché this whole “You only live once. Life is too short.”-thing is… But by now, in my mid to late twenties, I came to realize more and more that there is a certain truth to it.
So, I want to leave you with a question. One that had a great impact on my life. And maybe that it is worth thinking about for a little while…
“If you only had one more year to live... What would you change in your life?”
For me, this question made me come home.