I often talk about living life fully. You can approach life in this manner by adopting the attitude that this day could be your last.
In Carlos Castaneda’s books, the character Don Juan suggested living with “death on your shoulder.” In Jewish tradition, we remember the fragile nature of life each night as we confess our sins before sleep, not wanting to die during the night without having done so. We repeat this sentiment each morning as we awaken and thank God for returning our soul to our bodies again. Each night’s sleep represents a small death, if you will, a time when our soul leaves our body in a tiny out-of-body experience. Each morning symbolizes a rebirth of sorts, a new chance at life.
People who have narrowly escaped death know what it means to live with death on their shoulders-literally. The rest of us can only imagine. The Jewish rituals and prayers give us a way to bring this consciousness into our lives on a regular basis if we truly put the practices to us.
Today, I suggest we all imagine that this could be our last day of life.
Imagine that you have recently had a brush with death. For instance, maybe you survived cancer or were told you might have cancer and it turned out you didn’t. Or you almost died in a car accident or you did die on an operating table and were brought back to life or you narrowly missed drowning in the ocean. The scenario you pick doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you feel able to think about the following: If your life had ended, what things would you most have missed not accomplishing? And, now that you have a second chance, what would you like to accomplish?
We all have a lot of excuses for not doing the things we say we want to do. I have my own: not enough time, not enough money, too many “more-important” tasks during the day, too many emails to answer, children who need me, other people’s schedules that interrupt mine, the desire to have someone pay me to do what I say I want to do, etc. However, most of these really serve only as excuses.
Yes. I admit it. I make excuses every day for not accomplishing the things I want to accomplish. In fact, I could just do what I say I want to do.
And I talk a lot about what I want to do, but I don’t do it. I also complain about why I can’t do it. (This takes up precious time-time when I could be doing what I say I want to do.)
Can you relate? Does this sound like you?
As I said, I could do what I say I want to do. I could make the things I want to accomplish a priority. I could achieve them. I could accomplish them. How about you?
If today was your last day, or if this was your last week, what would you wish you had accomplished? If you had a second chance to accomplish it, would you? If so, how would you go about doing so?
Will you commit to accomplishing it with me…today? Not tomorrow. Today.
No more excuses. No more complaints No more waiting for the right time or the right resources. Instead, let’s be resourceful. Let’s find a way today to give to the world and our friends and families the things we want to give, so that if we died tomorrow, if we didn’t awaken in the morning, we will have lived fully. Let’s not take the chance on dying without accomplishing the things that meant the most to us.
I realize that we might not be able to reach our goals, achieve our dreams, accomplish each one of these things in a day, but if we approach each day in this way, we will, indeed, achieve what we set out to do. And we’ll do it in this lifetime.
What are you going to accomplish? What gift will you give to the world? How are you going to live more fully today by living as if today…and every day…were your last chance to accomplish your most precious goals?
I suggest that each night before you go to bed, you take on the Jewish practice of reviewing your day. Don’t just look at how you may have wronged other people and ask for forgiveness, or at how others may have wronged your and ask that they not be punished on your account. Look also at how you didn’t live your life fully. Look at what you didn’t do over the course of your waking hours to accomplish the things most important to you, to give your gifts to the world, to fulfill your soul’s purpose. Ask forgiveness for these things, and recommit to making better use of the next day when you awaken.
Then, when you arise, be very grateful for the blessing of another chance to live your life fully. And take full advantage of that blessing, that miracle of life.