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If you knew this day was your last, how would you spend it? On what would you ruminate? We live in many cases as if our lives were unlimited, and our time is reclaimable. The song verse “Live like you were dying” offers some sage advice. How much more loving, forgiving, carefree, joyous, and compassionate would you be if you lived as if your days were numbered? What lasting impression would you want to leave in the lives of other people?

A host of extraneous thoughts could more likely be eliminated – past obsession, future worry, and present discontent. I would imagine if this was your last day you would be grateful for what you had, and simply amazed with life itself. The movie “Griffin and Phoenix” revolves around two characters who both have terminal illnesses. One of the terminally ill (played by Amanda Peet) reminisces at the end of her life: “This is the last time I’ll hold a pencil;” “This is the last time I’ll see a sunset…” Things and people we take for granted (e.g., friends, family, and experiences) would take on a whole new meaning if we knew our time was precious. Last year I visited the Winchester mansion, maintained and expanded by the eccentric heiress. Interestingly, in her lockbox there were only two items – her husband’s obituary, and a lock of her daughter’s hair.

Organization involves keeping only what’s useful and non-repetitive – this process includes discarding anxiety, obsessive thoughts, anger, bitterness, and any of the emotions that lie on the bottom half of the MapofEmotions.

What ridiculous grudge would you relinquish if this were the last time those others would see your face? What would you say? I’m not sure why we leave some of our most loving sentiments for funerals, when it’s too late. In the movie “Last Holiday,” Queen Latifah’s character (who learns that she has only three weeks to live) in looking back says “I would have loved more, I would have laughed more, and I wouldn’t have been so afraid.” Fortunately, she lives and is able to implement this epiphany during each day of the rest of her life.

In On Golden Pond, Jane Fonda (in an attempt to restore their relationship) tells her onscreen (and off-screen) father at his eightieth birthday how much he means to her. This potential life altering mishap is an exhortation to us to use our time wisely. What would be the top five things on which you’d focus if you knew this was your last day? Just for argument’s sake think about this, journal your entry, and the next day make a concerted effort to perform those activities.

What framework would guide your thoughts? On what would your mind ponder? Don’t make the mistake of waiting until it’s too late to live on the edge, be the person you dreamed about, or to fulfill your most ardent desire. Do it now. With abandon.

Live out loud and raise the roof. Your time is limited, but your impact is lasting. At Al Gore Senior’s funeral, his son said, “Dad, your life brought down the house.” Will people be able to say the same about you?

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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