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What Would I Be Doing Today If I Had Only 37 Days to Live?

One of the many books that I am reading right now is “Creative is a Verb” by Patti Digh. In it, she poses the question “What would I be doing if I had only 37 days to live. The question arises out of circumstances involving her beloved step-father.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer and died exactly 37 days later.  She writes: ‘The time frame of thirty-seven days made an impression on me. We often live as if we have all the time in the world, but the definite-ness of thirty-seven days was striking. So short a time, as if all the regrets and joys of a life would barely have time to register before it was up.”

If you are anything like me, you, too, live life as if you had all the time in the world. The word “procrastination” is our motto. We make lists of all the things we’d like to do before we die, as if we are promised any time beyond this moment. We put off living the life that we are meant to live because we believe that there is always tomorrow. We have that beautiful red dress that fits us perfectly, hanging in the closet waiting for the right time to wear it. We have heavenly perfumes and treasured china that we save for “special” occasions, as if we are not  precious enough to use them.   I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Anyway, the question got me thinking, what would I do if I had only 37 days to live? How would I spend that time? What things that I now hold dear would lose their importance in light of the “definite-ness” of thirty-seven days? How would I prepare for the thirty-eighth day? With whom would I spend my last days?

Such weighty questions, but the answers to which provide us  guidance about how we are truly living our lives, and how we can live our lives more fully and authentically. I mean, how much time do we spend doing things that don’t nourish us– that don’t feed our passion? In between the cleaning house, grocery shopping, driving the kids to and from school, and all the other tasks that fill our day, how do we satisfy our passions, yearnings and desires?

So, with that said, how would I spend my 37 days? I considered travelling to some of the places that are on my to-do list, and other doings. When it comes right down to it, however, I’d prefer to spend my time “being.” By “being” I mean, those instances stir our deepest emotions, such as, love, contentment, compassion and peace of mind. I am speaking of the feelings that arise when we are in the moment, not concerning ourselves with the past or the future– just in the here and now.

In my case, when I consider how I would spend my time, all that I can I think of is sharing it with my family and friends. Nothing that I can think of is more precious than those relationships, and I can’t imagine anything that I would rather be doing than talking, laughing, and singing–just being–with those whom I called loves. What you won’t find me doing is running errands, cleaning, or any of the monotonous tasks that usually take of most of my days. I also would not spend my days bemoaning the “what ifs” and the “should’ves.” No, thirty-seven days would not nearly be enough, but under the circumstance, it would have to do.

Ask yourself, how would you do if you had thirty-seven days to live? How would you spent your thirty-seven days? Don’t wait. Begin today.

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