I very often hear people tell others to “live like you’re dying” but I think we can all agree that is not great advice. I understand the sentiment: don’t wait to do the things that matter to you or whatever. Here’s the thing though, the majority of people are scared of dying. Being told you are dying is a scary and stressful thing, not something that makes you think “oh now I can finally live the way I’ve wanted.” It makes sense that people are scared to die, I mean your brain is hardwired with a healthy amount of fear that it uses to stop us from doing things that will hurt/kill us, like jumping off a cliff or putting your hand on a hot stove. That being said I think that as a society we have an exaggerated fear response to death. We have more than a healthy amount of fear. We have lost sight of the fact that death is a natural part of life. It’s not something to be feared or anticipated, it’s just something that happens. That is the first step in really living. You cannot let fear consume your life.
Instead, I would say “Live your life as if you simultaneously have no time and all the time in the world.” Live like you have no time so that you can realize what is really important to you and do the things that matter to you. Live as if you’ll never die so that you don’t feel rushed to do all the things you want to do and so that you can enjoy the little things in life.
In the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, the titular character (Mr. Magorium) dies. He gives a lot of good advice during his time in the movie. I’m including his advice relevant to the subject matter. The first quote I have is from his last day. Molly Mahoney (the main character) is spending the day with him to try to convince him not to leave even though it’s his time. This quote comes from when they set all the clocks in a store to go off at the same time and are jumping on mattresses.
Mr Magorium: 37 seconds
Mahoney: Great! Well done. Now we wait.
Mr Magorium: No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds, well used, is a lifetime.
We have a lot more time than we think we do. Most people just happen to have really messed up priorities and we end up wasting the time we have. When you let go of the fear of dying and the stress that comes with it, you can focus on using your time how you want, rather than how fear is dictating. In his last scene in the movie, he is talking to Molly Mahoney about the fact that he is going to die. He leaves us with a reminder about living our best lives.
He says “Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.”
We all have hopes and dreams and we can achieve them. All you have to do is do it. I’d like to leave you with one more quote. The day before he dies he’s talking to his (magical) toy store. It’s pouting because it doesn’t want him to leave, much like Mahoney. He says “We must face tomorrow, whatever it may hold, with determination, joy, and bravery.” That is how I try to live every day. You need determination and bravery to get you through the tough stuff and to allow you to do the fun stuff. You need joy for life. You can exist without joy, but you can’t live without it. No matter what comes your way, all you need is determination, joy, and bravery.
You can’t keep bad things from happening, no matter how many precautions you take, no matter how hard you try. You can certainly try, and I’m not saying to be reckless, but you have to live, really live. Live BIG! You don’t need to climb a mountain to live big but if that’s what you want to do then you should do it. You don’t want to be 95 years old with years of regrets of things you wanted to do but didn’t. I mean let’s be honest I think we all take life a little too seriously. We only have one lifetime to do a lot of cool stuff and I don’t have any time to waste! I plan on making use of every second I have on this planet. Not sure what I’m going to do with all of them but I’ll figure it out as I go along.