A friend emailed me recently saying that he had to give a five minute talk titled ‘What would you say if you had five minutes left to live?’ Wow! A difficult task indeed…
Here though is my attempt.
With just five minutes to live I would tidy up my past and (with a degree of hubris) attempt to share a few bits of advice for an imaginary, still-living version of myself.
It always seems a pity when people pass away with words unsaid and unfinished business. To leave people behind feeling resentful or hurt or confused. So using a couple of my remaining minutes for thank-yous, apologies and clearing up of any festering misunderstandings or brooding silences would be time well spent.
With just three unforgiving minutes to go I would turn to the future. And, I suspect, in those three minutes I would finally realise what a privilege it is to be alive. I would probably live those minutes as fully as I should have been living all the lazy, ungrateful, grumpy ones that I had wasted over my life. I think I have enough time for a short aside.
By chance I once came across the gravestone of Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon. On it was written this, “Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless…”
Now, with just two minutes to go, what advise would I pass on to an imaginary “me” who was not just about to die? Nothing here is particularly new or spectacular, but they are the things I wish I had done more of in order to make my life more full, more rounded, more worthwhile, and happier.
- Life is precious. It is short. It is wonderful. It is fun. It is filled with limitless possibility.
- Do good things for other people. You don’t have to do this all the time, for we are not saints. But do it more often than you have previously done. And you may be surprised how good it makes you feel.
- Stop caring about stuff. With just one minute left before I die I cannot believe I wasted hours and days earning extra money to buy a bigger car, a bigger telly, and jeans with a fancy brand badge sewn onto them.
- In all the spare time saved by not needing to buy expensive stuff I would encourage myself to spend more time outdoors, climbing up hills, sledging down them, jumping into rivers, walking the streets of my home town talking to people. Read more books, listen to more music, watch less lazy TV.
- Laugh more, whinge less.
- Run more, eat less.
- Take time now and then to stop and watch the sunrise or set, watch the power of a summer thunderstorm, look up at the full moon, or kick your feet through a pile of crunchy autumn leaves. The world is a wild and beautiful place. And it is easy to forget that when we spend so much time indoors.
- Don’t settle for “good enough”. Make your life as interesting, varied, exciting and challenging as possible. You will regret it if you do not.
- Strive to live each minute as though you had but five more minutes to live.
And then, being English, I’md go and put the kettle on.
What Would You Say If You Had Only 5 Minutes Left To Live? Share your thoughts in the comments section…