Submitted by Steven Kaszab
Imagine you have been told you have 5 years to live. What could go through your mind? The questions, the emotional pull upon your lived reality. You realize that you are not invincible but finite. There is an end to your journey and you are not prepared for it to happen.
I know of a few people who were told they had a limited schedule with regards to their lives. Our medical professionals often have to tell their patients this type of news. Must be hard to do so.
I have seen many people die before me. Young people often went quickly while those who were elderly knew their time was limited. They could feel it in their bones, by the way they were forced to live, dealing with medical issues and simply the ravages of age.
Well you know you have five years to live. What will you do? How will you live? How will you share this with your family? Can you walk quietly into the night or will you go kicking and fighting?
I once sat with a elderly lady who was dying. She could not speak, but simply looked into my eyes and I into hers. Hands together, gently massaging her hand and speaking to her not about the after life to come, but about her life, the gift she had been to her family, neighbours and friends. As a chaplain I had not followed the time proven formula. You know, talk about Gods love for Her, and that a place was waiting for Her in Paradise. I have always centred myself upon the person. If God loves us, I do not need to remind her of that do I?
Well after You take care of all the essentials, like your will, the debts you have, and messaged everyone about the news of your future demise what to do?
What do you simply want? You can continue living your life as you have been. No changes, except perhaps you can have one more beer or glass of wine then usual. Remember all those people who won a lottery and then say they will not change anything? Yah really.
Developing a bucket list may make sense. Everything depends on the type of person you are right. Single, married, young or old. A single person may find satisfaction in so many things like travel, buying things, sex or finding the right person to share their shortened lives. Since you cannot take it with you like the Pharaoh’s of old, emotional and physical satisfaction may fulfil you. Buying a expensive new wardrobe may make your year, and leaving it all to charity a bonus. A hedonistic attitude maybe what your looking for indeed.
Put yourself into a charitable frame of mind. Helping your neighbour, or those less fortunate then you is indeed commendable. Helping others often brings you self meaning, self understanding and strengthens character. However think before giving all your belonging away. At the last hour you may get good news that you can be cured, salvaged in some way. Would be a shame continuing your life in poverty . Never react, always think before you act.
What if you are a religious person? Boy the questions you could ask, like why did God do this to me, why me, why now? You may or may not fear the promised afterlife. Perhaps you have not been a pillar of goodness. Injured another perhaps? Well in the bad old days, they had sin eaters who would take your sin upon themselves. Ever ask why there are so may grand churches in Europe? Like the song “stairway to heaven” many wealthy but nasty individuals tried to buy their way into paradise. You could try in a small way yourself. The good people of AA seem have it right. You need to recognize who and what you are, and then see the good and damage you have done to others. Then you need to seek absolution, not from God, but from your moral neighbours. If you believe yourself to be one of the chosen you may not need to worry about passing into eternity. However, Image if you enter heaven and find everyone there, is someone you have always hated. Hell in Heaven.
Humanists can enjoy their lives to the fullest, while doing good, enjoying themselves and their neighbours too. The world is a big place and no matter the time you may have, you’ll never be able to experience all that the world has to offer. You can certainly try and put it all onto credit cards too. Experience the world on someone else’s dime. Not to be encouraged, but them who am I to give you advice?
I think I know what I would do. May I tell you? Since my backyard is my cottage, and what brings me the most joy is my family, I will stay with them, not impose debt upon them, but do all things in moderation. After all five years is a long time. Really. Ever lived an experience that seemed longer then it had been. The three hours I spent with the above mentioned lady did not seem like a long time. My concern and empathy for her encompassed me, and drew me into her life experience. For that moment, experiencing this lovely lady seemed a gift, and not a burden. In five years image the books you could right, the people you can meet, the love you can experience.
I have had one concern most of my life. as an amateur historian I marvelled at the “great” people that came before me. They left a mark upon this world, whether it be a mark of innovation, creativity, intelligence and humanity, or a mark of Cain. (biblical again). Good vs evil. Creative vs destructive.I think the most important question you can ask yourself is this…What type of mark do I want to leave, how will I improve this world? We are all pebbles of sand in the wind, but together we make up this world, like a sand dune that is constantly moving, we can make a difference, separately or together. Where are your strengths? Can you create for others or just for yourself?
I want to leave a mark that my family, friends and neighbour’s will be proud of, and no time limit can change that impulse, that craving to enjoy what I am to become.
Appreciate and live your lives to the fullest. Remember we are all God’s on a land that we transform daily. Only we can make a difference.