If today were your last day . . .

“Live not one’s life as though one had a thousand years, but live each day as the last.”

– Marcus Aurelius


Live every day as if it were your last – so easy to say, but honestly, how plausible is it?

My son Lukas came upon this quote by Nietzsche and thought it would fit nicely in my blog. (He’s got my back!)

“What if, some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sight and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence…’
If this thought were to gain possession of you it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and everything – ‘Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?’ would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight.”

Upon pondering that quote, Lukas mused:  “Yeah, so it refers to living your life, judging an action by which you might have to repeat it again and again . . . this idea of eternal re-occurrence can guide your life path – help you out of banality and suffering.” (That’s my boy!)

Nietzsche’s quote reminded both of us of Steve Jobs’ incredible 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

These ideas seem even more relevant to me today, than they normally would.  Last night, my husband Jeff accepted a year-long position with The British Council doing teacher training in Borneo.  My sons and I will be staying in New Zealand.  It’s the fulfillment of a dream that’s been on hold for a while for Jeff, and a big part of me is really happy for him. But if I’m honest, my feelings are much more convoluted that just happy for him.  So no, neither of us found out that today would be our last day, however, Jeff is leaving for a year in only three short weeks.  And well, anything can happen . . . Borneo feels pretty far away.

So this topic feels even bigger than it normally would. And for the next three weeks anyway, I’m going to seriously try to remember what Jobs advised, at least with Jeff .  I plan to ask myself:  If today were the last day of my life with Jeff, would I want to do (or say) what I am about to do (or say) today?”

The video I’m attaching is a bit cheesy (sorry Lukas) but it made me cry and it seemed to fit, so here it is:

 

 

Please write and let me know what you would do if today were your last day.  As always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “If today were your last day . . .

  1. I had fun dancing in my computer chair to that one! Great tune and great message. One of my favorite quotes along this line- ” Each day well lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope”. It helps me to remember to make the most of the time we have.Congrats to you and Jeff on his new adventure! Doug

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  2. Hi Patti. My brother Brian, only 2 years older than me, died suddenly on July 18th of a heart attack. Since then, I’ve been rather busy comforting and caring for our elderly parents, coping myself with the loss and coming to terms with what was not an easy relationship between the two of us. Funny, that today was the first day in a long time I read your blog. You know how it is – when you lose a family member you feel your own mortality and you think a lot about how you live each day and exactly what you said – if this was your last day would you be doing what you are doing. My brother and I had a complicated relationship. We loved each other and were very close growing up but grew apart as we became adults. Still, I had my first enjoyable visit with him in years just 2 weeks before he died and I called him on his birthday a few days later and we had another nice conversation. I was kind of mad at him because he made a remark I didn’t care for, but I decided not to mention it to him on his birthday and I am so grateful I kept my mouth shut. Because really – who cares? Life is too short. I’m so happy that my last interactions with him were pleasant and since then, I’ve been conscious of trying to make all my interactions with people positive. I haven’t been 100% successful, but I’ll keep trying.

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    • Hi Kathleen – thank you so much for taking the time to share that. It is so fitting. So important, staying conscious of our interactions. Thanks again for writing Kathleen, I really appreciate it.

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