by Karen Rose
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Chances are you won’t die tomorrow. But if you were to disappear from earth forever in the next 24 hours, what would you do differently today? I hear many people say they would travel or do something death defying. Sounds fair, but if you really had one day left on this planet, would you really spend half of it traveling to a distant land, or skydiving into a pool of sharks? I would venture to guess that most people have loose ends they wish to tie up and relationships they wish to mend. One of my OCD tendencies is to want to leave everything in ‘dying order.’ This is one of the reasons I don’t keep a journal – because do I really want all my deep dark thoughts and feelings out there for everyone to scrutinize? Oh wait, I’m a writer. I guess it’s already out there. I feel pretty fortunate that I’m an open book (for the most part), even though it’s brought about judgement and criticisms from those who don’t care for my opinions or my honesty. I occasionally ponder what I would do if I died tomorrow because I’ve been in situations, more than once, that remind me it can very well happen. For that I’m grateful. Being reminded of my mortality is a gift. Most people would hate coming face to face with death, but I’m telling you, it’s pretty magnificent in many ways. For those who haven’t given it much consideration, here are my suggestions…
Thank those who have tried to destroy you.
It sounds ridiculous, but the people in your life who have lied to you, abused you, cheated on you, lied about you or selfishly used you, made you into the person you are today. Whether it was a spouse, a parent or someone else you trusted, they taught you a valuable lesson about humanity. Think of the wisdom you have gained from surviving a selfish parent or an uncaring partner. Let them off the hook before you leave the world. Tell them their being an asshole was a precious gift that made you a better person.
Tell the people you love how you feel.
Really, what do you have to lose? So what if they don’t love you back. You’re going to die anyway. Don’t let the person you care for live their lives not knowing how much they are admired and loved. Even if they don’t feel the same way, for whatever reason, they will most likely appreciate you sharing your feelings. Let them know they are worthy of being loved by you.
Let go of all the bad shit that’s happened to you.
You know that saying, “Life sucks and then you die?” If you expected your life to be full of rainbows and unicorns, you will die a very disappointed individual. The truth is, life is difficult for most people. It doesn’t mean it’s not worth living. It just means don’t get caught up in a pity party because it didn’t turn out exactly how you had hoped. The happiest people I know accept life can sometimes suck and it’s up to them to find the beauty and kindness in an often cruel world.
Be yourself and enjoy the simple things.
Listen to music that makes your soul sing, eat your favorite food, drink your favorite wine, have sex with your favorite person, enjoy all the simple gifts in life that bring you joy. We often take these simple pleasures for granted. Revel in them. Soak them in. It may be the last time you’ll get to enjoy them, so make it spectacular and savor every second.
This is probably the most important one of all. One of the most endearing qualities a person can have is being humble. Admitting imperfections and apologizing for hurting someone you love is the bravest, most unselfish thing a person can do. I’ve seen egos and selfishness destroy relationships. It’s tragic and it’s unnecessary. Apologize for God’s sake. Because one day, it will be too late, and that one day could be tomorrow.