Imagine you are Aladdin. You rescue the magic lamp and when you finally rub it, the genie that appears isn’t interested in granting you your three wishes. Instead, he gives you a different gift: the date that you will die.
The good news is that you’re not going to be wiped out by COVID. The less good news is that you have twenty years left.
At what point in your life would that be a welcome forecast? I wouldn’t mind being told that at age seventy. I think I would then feel that I’ve had enough time.
But what if you were told today? What would you change? What would you stop expending your finite energy on? Where would you stop wasting your time?
While “seize the day” is a popular motto, no one really thinks about their mortality as something they can prepare for. Maybe you get your finances in order. Maybe you spend some more time with your kids, your spouse. But what about the idea that we’re all put on this earth for a reason, maybe to learn something, maybe to give something?
I think about my grandmother, who now lives in a nursing home. After my grandfather passed away some years ago, she has deteriorated significantly. It’s like her reason for being, for getting up every day has gone, and, as a result, without her purpose, it’s as if her will to live has gone. I look at her inability to walk and wonder why she’s still here.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I’m willing her to die. It’s more that I wonder why we are alive after our “purpose” is gone. Maybe hers was raising a family and being a companion to my grandfather. Or at least that’s what she might say.
And then there’s the physical suffering that old people go through. Karmic debt? Perhaps.
But I digress.
What if you knew, knew, that you just had twenty years left? This is not the one week or one year I sometimes talk about, rather a decent expanse of time to put your mind to work.
What is your purpose? Why are you here?
They say that the two most important days in your life are the day that you are born and the day you figure out why. Do you know? Do you care? And if not, why?
Yes, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Yes, there are certain things that we have to experience for the evolution of our soul. But there is a reason that you are here – and this idea that you have been given the date of your death, a mere twenty years into the future, is cause to start re-evaluating how you are living now.
Do your actions today support your long-term life vision? Do you even have one?
Every day, you are either moving closee that goal or away from it. There is no in-between. There is no coasting. Coasting is regressing. Coasting is opting out of life. Coasting is not wanting to take responsibility and realise how powerful you are.
You create your future. Or I should say co-create.
You are going to die. We are all going to die. What will your legacy be? Or will you be forgotten as soon as you as you are six feet under?
In his book, Farthest Field, Raghu Karnad says that “people have two deaths: the first at the end of their lives, and the second at the end of the memory of their lives, when all who remember them are gone”.
What exactly will you be leaving behind?
And what steps are you willing to take now to achieve that?
Maybe it’s about ego, to begin with at least, but it doesn’t have to be. Not at all.
And then contemplate some more.
The answers will come.