If you were given only one month to live and nothing more, what would you do?
I know for sure that I would certainly not be thinking of building a home, starting a business, getting married, starting a family, raising kids, making new friends…
I wouldn’t want to get more people involved in my sad and short life, only to leave them abruptly in even more sadness. In that one month, I probably would be very miserable. I’d be alone, thinking of my life, maybe trying to make amends for my past wrongs. But isn’t that selfish?
Or maybe I wouldn’t be alone. I’d be in church. I’d be with my loved ones. I’d be with friends and family, spending my final days with those who would make me feel better and help take my mind off my impending doom. I’d be distracted from life, running away from my sober reflections until I’m all alone with my thoughts at bedtime. Is that a little bit better?
How would you live yours? What would you choose to stay occupied with?
Our occupations here on earth reflect our dispositions toward longevity, toward life and death. When we launch our careers, start new businesses, start new families, raise kids and extend our relationships by making new friends, it’s because we see ourselves living for much longer than a month, a year, a decade and even more. These are life-affirming activities and occupations.
If we thought we were dying soon, we wouldn’t be concerned with those things. We’d be more concerned with ourselves, much more than we’d be concerned about anybody else. We would be like those in society who have refused to blend in. They have refused to be occupied with those life-affirming activities. They refuse to do much work, refused to start families and refused to make new friends or integrate in a lively way with the rest of society. Somehow they have lost all hope without receiving any memo that they had only a short time to live.
What’s wrong there? Sometimes it’s a religious choice, since this world is not my home. Sometimes it’s a downright refusal to accept responsibility in life. All the same, something is not right. Something is dead inside. The choice is in no way life-affirming.
No progress was ever made on earth by those who stayed disconnected, and, consequently, no tangible contribution was ever made by such people to the rest of humanity.
So you’re not dying in one month, thankfully so. Or maybe you are – who knows? We most times don’t get that memo and are left guessing and wishing death away. The best we can do is to choose to be occupied with life-affirming activities daily. We choose to get up and go to work, adding value to other people’s lives. We choose to get married, start families. We choose to take risks and start new businesses. We choose to learn new skills, expand our horizons, make new friends and build communities.
We choose life over death because we know that if we lived selfishly as though we were going to die tomorrow, no one else would be better for it. The only thing we could possible learn from impending death is that we better act right today because we are not sure of tomorrow.
There’s the daytime when everyone should busy themselves with expansionary activities, but the nighttime inevitably comes when we are left alone with our thoughts, sober reflections and consequences of all our actions leading up to that moment. And it better not be a night too dark and full of terror.