Carpe Diem - What If Today Were Your Last Day?

Monday, October 12, 2015

What was your first thought when you woke up today?  Did you groan and wish you could stay in bed?  Did you wish it were the weekend or that you didn't have to go to work?  Did you begin immediately to mentally run through your "to do" list?  I think for most people these are pretty common first responses to waking up.  We are programmed to FUNCTION.  We are wired to ACCOMPLISH and thanks to modern technology, we live in a fast-paced and driven society where everyone is in a rush.  We multitask throughout our day often barely aware of what we are doing, behaving more like robots or machines than human beings.  We text and email because it's faster than phoning, we drive fast and even multitask while we drive.  Families are scheduled and over scheduled, racing from one activity to another with parents working and children in daycare or home alone as latchkey kids.  Scheduling time with friends is like booking appointments with professionals, sometimes scheduling get-togethers weeks or months in advance.   Everything is plotted and planned and carried out by distracted and distant people totally unaware that their lives are speeding past uncontrollably.  We're so busy, when we're asked what we did yesterday, we can barely remember.  We are living on automatic pilot, moving blindly, unconsciously through our lives trying to keep up.  Sound familiar?  Maybe this is an exaggeration for some but if we're honest, I think we'd all agree that we aren't really taking time to savor this life we were given.  Let me explain.

Let me start by asking a few questions.
 - When was the last time you had a long conversation with your best friend - either on the phone or in person?
 - When was the last time you spent an afternoon or evening with your parents?
 - When was the last time you spent an evening with your children without once looking at your phone, answered a text or checked your email?
 - When was the last time you didn't spend time 'working from home' instead of playing or reading to your kids or talking to your spouse?
 There was a time, admittedly many years ago, when people actually did these things.   They left work and came home and enjoyed their family.  There weren't cell phones so people phoned friends or went outside and visited with their neighbors.  My parents got together with friends every weekend to play cards or Scrabble.  Kids played in the yard with their friends and didn't sit in front of a tv or video game.  Families got together on weekends and shared a meal.  People lived on their income and did without what they couldn't afford instead of living on credit cards and in debt.  Life wasn't perfect and not every household was happy and peaceful, but things were different than they are today.  Parents parented and kids were taught values and manners, etiquette and structure.  People wrote thank-you notes and youngsters respected there elders.  If a teacher said your kid was disrespectful or misbehaved in class, the parent saw that the kid was disciplined, not excused and the teacher blamed.  Kids did chores and knew the meaning of responsibility and earning things instead of entitlement.  Teenagers earned their allowance or got jobs.  It may sound awful to young people today, but that's how it was and somehow we adults survived that upbringing.  In many ways, even without cell phones and computers, the world might have been a better place way back then.

We take life for granted today.  We wake up and forget to thank God for another day.  We whittle away our time on meaningless things, assuming we have our whole lives ahead of us.  We don't take time to look at our lives, at the people in our lives, at the things that matter to us and remind ourselves that all those things are temporary.  Tomorrow isn't guaranteed.  People die and riches fade.  The things we deem important might seem important, but in the grand scheme of things, are they really?  Is that annoyance at work really worth so much of your time and energy?  Is that email you're answering instead of reading to your toddler so important?  Is that tv show you're watching more important than the friend you've lost touch with or the spouse you've lost connection with?  Sometimes our priorities get mixed up and the things we are devoted to are really just 'things'.
Another thing I've noticed, and have for a long time, is how easy it is for us to turn down opportunities to LIVE in order to accomplish.  Are you guilty of this?

How many times has a friend called to get together that you declined because you had 'things' to do.....laundry to do, closets to clean, bills to pay?   Now don't misunderstand, all those are worthy things to spend your time on and all of them necessary to get done.  But sometimes, just sometimes, we could really accomplish both.....necessary tasks and spend quality time with family or friends.  Perhaps if we spent a little less time looking at a screen, we could actually experience some quality face-to-face time.   I learned a little about this lesson years ago when my lifelong best friend got cancer.  Since 1995 she's had cancer three times and thank God, she is a survivor.  But I learned my lesson with her experience and when I get a chance to see her, I NEVER say no.  Nothing is more important to me - nothing - than spending time with her and her husband when the opportunity arise.
Life holds no guarantees.  All we are sure of is today.  If you were told today was the only day you had, how would you spend it?  Would you play video games, peruse Facebook or Pinterest, check emails, focus on work?  Would you watch t.v. or rake the lawn?  Would you polish the furniture or organize your closets?  Probably not.  Think about it.....maybe whatever you would do if you knew today was the only day left in your life is what you should be doing today.
Next time you're staring mindlessly into your phone or computer or tv screen, next time you're answering work emails from home, stressing over your endless to-do list......stop for a moment and remind yourself that today could very well be the last day you have. It could be the last day your parent has, or your friend has.  Before you know it your kids will be grown and off to college.  You'll long for the days when you could talk with them or laugh with them.  But for now - you have that time.  You have today.  Carpe Diem!!!!   Today is yours for however you want to spend it.  Spend it wisely.

Tomorrow, pretend it's your last day.  Consider trading a few moments of your typical day with a "to do" list that looks more like this -
  •  Call a friend
  • Write a note to someone you appreciate and tell them what a difference they have made in your life.
  • Enjoy your kids - uninterrupted and without distractions
  • Go outside and breathe in the fresh air
  • Say a prayer
  • Make a list of things you are thankful for
  • Look around your home and ask yourself if your possessions are adding to the quality of your life
  • Contemplate your it getting more attention than your family and friends?  Does it need to?
  • Walk away from people in your life who repeatedly hurt and disrespect you.
  • Hug your spouse and for a moment, imagine your life without them.  Thank God for them.
  • Thank God for this day and remind yourself today is temporary.  We can't take people or things with us when we go, so re-evaluate how you are investing your time and energy.
  • Live - live with Gusto, with Gratitude and with Grace.  Forgive others, even if they don't deserve it, you do.  Hug people, look into people's eyes, be kind and leave the judging up to God.  He has more time and experience anyway.

 Life is a gift - that's why they call it the Present!
Now go have a great day and share this with someone you know who might need a reminder that life is precious and temporary and that they are a precious gift in your life!


  1. I loved this post! You have said it all….I hope others take a moment a read this….there is a lot to think about here….very well written, I might add! Thank you for this…..

    1. Thank you Fran! Life is short and I think we all forget that at times.

  2. I think about this often as my days are filled full of so much "busyness". I have taken the road to lessen that in one area, but it just seems like so much. Thank you for posting this!


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