Seize the Day

In memory of Amanda
By Carrie Foster

I have to confess that I try not to spend too much time thinking of my own impending death. Which when you write the words “impending death” makes it seem like it is happening soon. I hope not. But we don’t actually know when our end will come. When my Father died suddenly of a heart attack he was simply going out to buy groceries. There was no note on his calendar that said; “have a heart attack” it just happened after he got in his car to leave. But like the saying goes “nothing is certain, except death and taxes.”

It does make me wonder though, what would happen if we knew our date of departure, would that make us live our lives differently? Many people given a terminal diagnosis set about fulfilling a bucket list of things they want to do before it is too late. Is a pre-requisite of seizing the day that we acknowledge our own mortality?

Aside from whether we would bother with savings, life insurance or a pension, what difference would it make to live on borrowed time?

For many years I have lived by the Dr Pepper maxim – “What is the worst that can happen?” Quite often the answer to that question is not a lot. My coaching clients are often struggling with inaction, especially when it comes to career progression, pay rise or asking for development opportunities and so we examine the situation with Dr Pepper lenses. Asking for a pay rise? If the answer is no, then you are no worse off than you are now, but your boss now knows you don’t think you getting paid enough for your efforts and will no doubt try to work out a way to keep you happy. Asking for increased job responsibilities? The worst that can happen is your boss says no, and you carry on doing what you are doing anyway but your boss now knows you are looking for promotion opportunities. Etc etc.

The truth is (a) the worst that could happen by doing something is the same as not doing anything (b) even doing something that results in the situation not changing, changes the situation. So the Dr Pepper Maxim is Do Something rather than choosing to do nothing. Is that not what it means to seize the day. Doing nothing is still a choice, and a choice too many of us make out of fear or hubris.

Sometimes doing something leads us to places that are uncomfortable, but inaction usually gets us to uncomfortable more often. How often have you said to yourself “I should have done something sooner”

And if you died tomorrow? What regrets would you have of not doing something sooner or different?

My brother died in a car crash driving home from work, when he was just 40 years old. I wonder sometimes if somehow he knew he was going to live a short life, because he did more in his 40 years than most people do were they twice his age. Whether it was travelling, career or family and friends, he achieved so much and lived such a rich life. The only thing on his bucket list that he never got to do was a safari in Africa. His funeral was a celebration of a life well lived, with the church crammed to the rafters with people whose lives he had impacted.

Amanda

As I write this I’m heading towards my 45th Birthday and I still have too much I want to do with my life. I would feel royally narked if my mortal coil snapped anytime soon. Amanda’s passing reminds me that the worst that could happen is that I didn’t take the opportunity or do the thing I want to do and it was too late because my number was up. It sure motivates me to seize the day and live my life fully.

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