Monday, May 17, 2010

If I Only Had 72 Hours

On FB I saw an ad that said "What would you do if you only had 72 hours left to live?" Typically, I don't like questions like this because they ask the impossible. By impossible I mean that one couldn't really know what they would do with their last 72 hours until they were actually in them. That is, if they were even aware that they only had three days left of their current existence. And why 72 hours? Is there some magic formula that says that it only takes three days to accomplish everything you wish you had, but haven't yet?

The problem that I have with these types of questions boils down to the fact that I believe that one still exists after their current form extinguishes and that "time" is nothing more than an illusion, as Einstein called it. Why some of you may wonder and perhaps others will agree based on shared experiences. But for argument's sake, I'll play "devil's advocate" and agree with whoever wrote those words. I'll assume that I've been told this very instant that I only have the next 72 hours to experience life.

I could make a list of the things that I've always thought of doing, but haven't due to letting the everyday necessities of life take priority. Somehow though, this seems to miss the gist of the message. Making a list of what you would like to do kind of defeats the purpose of actually doing something. Considering only yourself in the equation, I believe, also defeats the purpose. The real question is how would you spend the moments of those final 72 hours and whom would you spend them with.

Of course, the reality is that even if we know approximately how much time we have left in this realm, we can't really plan it. The only thing we can hope to do is to be able to "catch up" on some of life's moments we wanted to experience and share them with those who are important to us. In fact, if we are ever given the courtesy of knowing approximately how much time we have left, we should be satisfied with what we have already done. We shouldn't wait for a terminal diagnosis to shed our inhibitions, follow our intuition, extend support to others, or live out our internal possibilities. But, the reality is we probably will anyway. Because time gives us the illusion that it will continue to unfold in a linear fashion and that our physical existence, like our intangible one, is somehow infinite.

When we have a life-stopping scenario that makes us catch our breath we may start to live each day, perhaps each moment as though it might be our last. I know it's something I've tried to do, piece by piece, for awhile now. Still, it doesn't feel like enough. It doesn't feel as though I am letting go of the "mundane everyday" enough. If I were to live, truly live, I'd fly like a bird or a butterfly from one destination to the next. I'd see the world and have more random heart to heart talks like the one I had with the Grandmother who sat next to me on the plane ride to Tampa. She told me I had beautiful eyes. I listened to her talk about her children, her dogs and a piece of her life. I told her I hoped she had a good trip. She told me the same.

I'd say goodbye to all those things I think I have to do and not worry about money. I'd wake up each morning by 8 and go for a run or a hike along some scenic trail. I'd work on writing projects and find ways to give back to others through volunteer or reach-out projects. I'd spend time getting to know my family and friends better, eat and drink exactly what I wanted, meet as many people as I could, and listen to and help as many others as I could.

But, I think most of all, I would finally learn to be grateful for each small, seemingly insignificant moment that occurs between the grandeur of every sunrise and every sunset.


  1. That is a hard question in some ways, but it does make you think. If that was all the time I had left I would try make sure all those that I love knew that I loved them and then spend time with those of them that I could...just living in the moment. Have you read the novel "Everything Matters!" I think you'd like it. The ending speaks well to this.

  2. Thanks for the suggested reading! I'll have to add it to my list and check it out. If I could finally get through "Three Cups of Tea," I'd be happy!!

  3. Ihidero Victor OsaeMay 24, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    I would fight with fate to live. I would question death, or fate itself if it had the moral or is it social rectitude to scoop out time for me. I would embark on a writing project; to tell the world how religion has deceived mankind. Then i would ask why Christ defy the law of gravity. I would simply die, not to death, but to life.