We die. According to my father you were born with a death sentence, and that none of us get out of here alive. Rather macabre way of looking at things, albeit realistic. Many people focus on this concept – one could argue that Religions were founded because of the unanswered questions that we have:
- What is the meaning of life?
- Why do we have to die?
- Where do we go from there?
The catch being of course that the questions are, at present, and as far as we know, unanswerable. Acceptance of that fact is not easy as the clock ticks forever in the background – time of course being a human construct based on the space we live in. How pathetic.
The alternative to pondering the unanswerable questions is to just live every single moment like it is your last. We have all heard that perspective before but really, what does it mean? The concept seems obvious. There are Latin terms that describe the importance of it: Carpe Diem – seize the day. What in the hell does that even mean? Seize what and why am I expected to seize it at all? What does it get me? Upon further inspection, and retrospection, the answer becomes clear if you flip the entire equation upside down.
Let us face it, we take almost every single thing we experience entirely for granted. Meaning, of course, that we just assume that what we are doing right this moment isn’t going to be the last thing that we ever do – there is always more time. Ironically, at the same time that statement is entirely false. The young believe they are indestructible, and I have said many times that the universe is rather forgiving of the youthful, children especially, but the truth is that nobody is indestructible. We all have our Kryptonite and most of us don’t know what will actually do us in when the time comes – nor do we know the actual time that it will happen. What if you did? What if you knew?
Consider the death row inmate for a moment. He knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, when he is going to die the moment that they set the date and time. He knows exactly how long he has left. He knows how he will be spending that time. He knows who he will interact with, and who he won’t see ever again. He knows things that most of us dismiss daily. He is offered a last meal – the last food he will ever eat in this lifespan. He knows the last sleep he will sleep – the last dreams he will have. He knows the value of life as he is about to lose his.
This leads us down an odd path of questions. As previously stated, most of us consider that what we are doing right now is not the last thing that we will ever do – but it could be. What if that meal you just had was the last one you will ever have? What about that night’s sleep? Those dreams? What if that goodbye this morning was forever? What if that kiss was your last kiss? What if that gentle touch was the last one? The last caress of a loved one. What if that drive in your car, and the song you were listening to at the time, was the last drive and the last song you would ever experience?
What if it was to all end for you 60 seconds from now?
What would you look back on? What would you think? Who would you remember? Who would you miss? Would you have regrets? Would they be grand – like why didn’t you finish college? Would they be small -why didn’t you stay with mom for just one more cup of tea? She asked you to, didn’t she? What was more important that those last few minutes?
That is the trap, you see. We don’t really know what is important until those final moments. We don’t know the value of that last bite. We can’t comprehend that last hug. The last kiss. The last look. The embrace good bye. We don’t know those things because we have never experienced the last of something in such a grand fashion. Sure, there are smaller instances. The last time you will kiss a particular person. The last time you will see someone, or some place. And those instance can be relatively grand in themselves.
Me? I distinctly recall the last time that I saw my mother alive. It was trivial really. I was in my car, about to drive away, and my father was helping her out of her wheelchair to get into their car. I waved. She waved. She smiled. I had no idea that would be our last interaction – forever. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have driven away. I would have stayed, I would have taken in every single second of watching her struggle to get into the car. I would have gotten out of mine and helped. I would have hugged her again. I would have kissed her forehead. I would have told her how much she meant.
… but I didn’t know.
There is a saying “You don’t know what you’ve got, until its gone.” At some point isn’t it all gone, for all of us, because we are the one that is gone?