- Religion and Philosophy
If You Only Had One Year Left To Live...
The River Of Life
Time Is Valuable & Irreplaceable
Imagine if someone were told that they could select any store at their local shopping mall, that they would be given one hour to go through that store, and that they could keep everything that they touched during that one hour. They would be given precisely one hour, no extensions, but everything they touched during that one-hour time limit was theirs for the keeping. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? I can imagine that there are some people who would run to their favorite jewelry store and make a huge pile of exquisite baubles, beautiful pieces that had always fascinated them. Others might run to their favorite clothing store and pick out all the stylish clothes that they had ever wanted, but couldn’t afford to buy. The list of stores and the different items people would select would most certainly vary from person to person, because we all do have our personal wants and needs, but the overall idea would be the same - a person given a limited amount of time to make the most of a great opportunity...and that is just like life. Only difference is, we really never know the exact time limit on our own lives.
Destined To Live A Long Life
Living Life Like You Are Going To Live Forever?
Like that journey into that store with that one-hour time limit, if you knew that you had one year left to live, what would you do? What would change? Imagine waking up one day, and you discover a pain that wasn’t there before. You visit the doctor only to find that you have an incurable illness that will take your life within one year. Your days are now defined by this seemingly unfair constraint. What you thought was some distant day in the far away future, a day that you conveniently ignored whenever it tried to get your attention, now looms before you like a huge, dark cloud. “It only happens to other people,” was the subliminal message that always ran through your mind when you read about this person, or that person, who had suddenly succumbed to some dread disease. “Wow!”, you said to yourself when reading of their passing, “they were so young.” And then you simply went on living your life the way the vast majority of people live their daily lives... as if they are going to live forever.
What If You Knew When?
But, if you knew without any uncertainty that you were going to breathe your last breath on a day that was exactly 365 days from today, what would you do? Yes, there are those who would suddenly say, “Well, that’s not fair! Why me?! Everybody else gets to live longer than I do. It’s not fair!” You might wallow in depressing thoughts, lots of “woe is me” tantrums, yet none of this would change the timetable. In one year, the life that you have known in this plane of existence would come to an end. Finished. Every future plan that you had entertained? Unattainable. What, then, would be the purpose in continuing to live? You might even bitterly and foolishly consider suicide. After all, if you only have one more year to live, then why live at all, right? Of course, that would just be robbing yourself of the last minutes in the store you selected.
Learning To Love
The Two Lists
After you have had time to process the fact of your “event” to come, no doubt there would be thoughts about all the time in your past, the good and the bad, of course, but most of all, there would be thoughts about the “What ifs?” When you had finished all of this sorting through the “should haves” and the “would haves,” there might finally come a moment of thought that awakens another question - “What now?” You would finally be made acutely aware of the finality of this existence, and a new list would emerge. On that list would be two columns, “Important” and “Unimportant.”
Love - The Most Valuable Experience
Think long about those two columns. Grudges? Animosities? Hatreds? What about all the time spent in front of the television? Video games? Getting drunk? Getting stoned? What about all the things that have rendered you “checked out” while life moves inevitably toward that final moment in the store you were wanting more of? In one of my favorite movies, “Ghost,” the character played by Patrick Swayze turns back to speak to his wife, just as his spirit is about to enter the world beyond this one, and he says something that I find completely compatible with the best Theology. With an amazed and rapturous smile, as if he just discovered the meaning of life, he says, “Love! It’s the one thing you take with you!”
Surrounded By Love
The Journey Is For Joy
This life is not the destination. It is the journey. The destination will come just as surely as the end of a train ride will bring us to the station marked on our ticket. And when we rise to get off that train at our final destination on Earth, even then, another journey will begin. Nevertheless, for now, we are on a fantastic journey through life, a journey filled with wonder and awe, laughter and joy, beauty and love, and, yes, even sorrow and tears. Perhaps we should examine why some of our priorities have imposed limitations on our joys. Even more perhaps, we should examine how we can make the best of the time that we have in this life. And maybe we should see this life as the example I posed early on, a gift from someone who said that we can choose the store of our heart’s desire and enjoy it for one full hour collecting everything we wanted.