Last Week on Earth
Every time I hear of a of a person’s death that was random, I always wonder, if they had only known that this was to be their last day. Would they have not of been in such a rush? A rush to get to work, a rush to make that promotion, a rush to close that multimillion dollar deal. Would the rush to make it in life, have been less significant? Then I wonder, if they had only known, would they have slowed down? Maybe then, they would have really looked at their husband or wife, told their children things they forgot to tell them, and perhaps forgiven their estranged sibling. If they had only known that these were going to be their last hours, maybe, just maybe they could have have had the chance to do things differently.
As the 2011 New Zealand earthquakes were unfolding, I watched the television screen, and stared in disbelief at the Christchurch shattered CBD buildings. Once standing firm and high, once busy, full of people rushing to make that meeting, anxious to reach those KPI’s, sweating to please the boss. And I knew that just seconds before the buildings had collapsed, there was a sales person in there, on the phone in negotiation of closing a significant contract. There was a woman in there, anxious in the midst of her monthly review, her boss displeased that she wasn't reaching her targets. And I’m sure among them was another gentleman being told these very words, ‘I’m sorry but we will have to let you go,’ distressed as how he was going to pay that mortgage. And within seconds, Mother Nature was furious, the earth shook, it was over. Had they've known, would the stress of making it have been so important?
So why is it that we’re in such a rush? Is it that we feel that the more successful we become, the larger our home gets, the fancier our car stands, the further immortal we become? Does status make people feel as though they are everlasting? And if so, why is it that during every flood you see a Porsche floating next to an old Ford, in the midst of debris on the television screen? Clearly, it seems that these drowning metallic objects hold no status in a flood or tragedy?
As a society, some of us may suffer from status anxiety, and many do fear poverty and failure. We look down on those in minimal jobs or free spirits who have little, yet who may also possess extreme happiness, perhaps not aware that they may hold more freedom than we know. Not bound by career and obligation. Not fearful of a sinking status. And perhaps to them status is having peace of mind. We’re in a rush to get somewhere and be somebody, that we forget to slow down, and to notice what’s important. To focus on the smaller details, rather than the bigger scheme. Perhaps life isn’t about working 95000 hours for fifty years so we could be somebody. Maybe life is about slowing down and being remembered by the people that we care most about.
So if you knew that this week was going to be your last, what do you wish you could have done differently?