What if you only had 24 hours to do the things you want, see the people and places you are able to visit and get your affairs in order?

When I first contemplated this question, I started crying. 

I didn’t want it to be my last day. I haven’t had enough time, enough good laughs, enough kisses and hugs with family and friends, enough wet nose bumps with my precious Kali or enough perfectly dry chardonnay or deliciously crafted Caesar salads. I haven’t had enough days luxuriating in my bed-like-a-nest or being surprised by a new thing or having something in nature totally blow me away.

I had to force myself to think what it might be like…this last day.

Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have continued writing this post if it weren’t for wanting to share my fear and what came out of that fear. I found myself saying, “If I’m feeling this way, I bet there are lots of others who might have difficulty as well.”

I began with an exercise — a blank piece of paper and the question, “What if today was my last?”

To immerse myself in the “last day” head space, I quieted down. It was hard to find the courage to get myself to actually feel what it would be like to have only one day left to live.

I squirmed and resisted. I did the dishes. I decided my craft closet needed some revamping. Finally when I was able to get serious about the exercise, the answers of what I’d do came swiftly. They poured out of me. I wasn’t surprised by what they were.

In order of priority my things were:

     – Be with my husband, my best women friends, and my 
          cat, Kali. (After writing this I’m crying again, so I 
          take a couple of deep breaths before proceeding.)

     – I’d write a few letters to extended family and friends 
           who I’ve gotten out of touch with, including a few 
          “Thank You” notes to people who have shown up 
          as teachers in my life.

     – I’d make arrangements to give some stuff away

     – I’d break out that $25 bottle of wine and enjoy it in 
          nature on my deck.

     – My favorite pieces of classical music would be 
          playing all day interspersed with some R&B soul 

     – I would apologize to a few people I have hurt, but 
          wouldn’t angst out over regrets or making amends.

     – I would eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish 
          Food ice cream and perhaps some risotto.

     – I’d go to the ocean and let the brilliant sun ricochet 
          off the white caps 
          into my eyes.

     – I’d let someone read 

          to me.

     – I would smile all day.

One purpose of this exercise is to see what my priorities are.
For me, the value of creating this list is to compare what I do now with what I’d do if my time was limited. I believe the real takeaway for me is to incorporate more of the things on my list into my everyday life.

Now it’s your turn.

Do what it takes to get in that space of feeling it’s your last day. Write down what you’d do differently and then try to do at least three of those things every week or every day.

While I got all weepy when I started with this post, I think the value of the exercise far outweighed any discomfort. It’s a great reminder for me to enjoy what’s important to me, pursue my priorities and make time for the things and people I love. 

What do you think?

Contact Antonia at Antonia@TheJoyofAgingGratefully.com
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