I’ve heard the mantra before: Imagine it’s your last year on earth, and you’ll live more deeply. It’s a message that keeps resonating: It’s now in The New York Times most popular stories, “To Be Happier, Start Thinking More About Your Death,” by Arthur C. Brooks.
He writes: “The secret is not simply a resolution to stop wasting time. … It is to find a systematic way to raise the scarcity of time to our consciousness.”
I actually think about this quite a bit. Perhaps because it’s a fear of mine (dying and/or losing A.), I’m drawn to stories of people dying young. On Facebook, I was friends with people who knew White House adviser Jacob Brewer, who was struck and killed by a car while on a charity bicycle ride. A lovely woman I knew in high school (though not well), who was a year younger than me, died of cancer this fall. She had three young boys. And I’m embarrassed to admit I spent hours trying to find out what kind of cancer could take the life of a woman who just had a baby (the answer, I’m pretty sure: cervical). And this tribute by a woman who lost her 37-year-old doctor husband to lung cancer (he has a forthcoming book out), was one of the most beautiful things I’ve read in a while.
So I’ve been thinking: What would I do differently if I knew this was my last year? And I can’t say that I’d change much. I’m not working right now so that I can be with my young boys and take care of the house so we’re all happier and not stressed. I’d probably make sure I worked on Curtis’ baby book and write a few tributes to the boys, so they know what I value and how much I love them. I’d probably try to get to a few places that I’ve always wanted to see (Turkey, Galapagos Islands, Argentina). And I’d connect with friends. But other than that, I’d squeeze A. and my boys every day and tell them I love them. Thankfully, I already do that.