Have you ever heard the saying “Live each day as if it were your last”? I myself often wonder how to do that and what it means in concrete terms. How would your last day feel? Have you ever wondered how that works?
I’ve been officially a palliative care patient for eight years now. People regularly ask me if I’ve changed anything in my life or lifestyle, if I’ve turned it upside down. My answer is always: No, I haven’t.
And I’m not even sure if that short answer is true. Factually, I haven’t changed anything. I’m still happily married, I still enjoy my hobbies and interests, and I still do what I do best: crisis and conflict management. The latter still takes up about 80 hours of my week, and I’m completely immersed in it.
I also spend time with friends, gardening, volunteering at the theater, or just being by myself. And I enjoy my life. Just like before. I don’t deny myself anything, and I allow myself a lot. So, I really haven’t changed a thing.
Do I live every day as if it were my last? No, I don’t.
I wouldn’t even know how to do that. If I knew that tomorrow was my last day, I would probably be so overwhelmed by the question of what to do with this gift of limited time that I would remain relatively inactive. I would probably grab a coffee, sit on the sofa and wait. Or quickly fold the laundry? Maybe write some notes to my loved ones? Make a phone call or two? Express my love to my loved ones? Truly, I have no idea.
What do you do on a day like that?
Or is this statement meant in a different way? That maybe I’ve changed something in my life? That maybe it’s not necessarily something factual, but rather my approach to life or my attitude?
For example, I never go to bed angry. I don’t go on a business trip unless everything is “okay” at home. I no longer get upset about things that used to upset or stress me out. Is this what is meant? Or has that just changed because of my age and life experience?
I’ve always been a very active person who lives intensely, tries out lots of things, and who moves forward boldly and positively. So that’s nothing new. But have I become more aware of it?
I can certainly empathize better with other people’s crisis situations. I have a new or expanded awareness. But is awareness a characteristic of my last day? My “new” life? I don’t think so.
Maybe the above saying is easier to say than to think through?
If I have to imagine every day that this could be my last day, that I should enjoy it now… do I really want to be confronted with the finiteness of life on a regular basis? Isn’t it better to just enjoy life and everything that comes with it, including the ups and downs? To surf the waves of my emotions? Or is that exactly what is meant?
Well, if that’s the case, then it’s what I do: I live each day as if it were my last. But this saying still feels strange to me. And I’m convinced that it must have been invented by someone who hasn’t had to deal with the prospect of death in any real way.
Here is one thing that has changed for me: I have become more grateful and humble. Grateful for my parents, my loved ones, my life and my happiness. And humble towards the very same things. And towards life.
Have you ever thought about the saying “Live each day as if it were your last” and wondered how it works? What ideas have you come up with?
I would love to hear from you.
With that in mind,
Go for it, Your Crisis Manager