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If This Is Your Last Year Alive

What if the remaining days of this year are all you have left? What if this is it? The thought strikes like a cold wind, I know, but along with the discomfort associated with it, it also has the potential to crack open life’s deepest questions.

I am not wishing any of us to die soon by posting this, but keeping this perspective in mind is actually healthy and liberating. It sets the tone of our life and significantly helps us to focus on the things that truly matter. In Stoicism, this reflective thinking is called memento mori. The whole idea is beautifully encapsulated in the following quote,

"You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” — Marcus Aurelius

Author Thornton Wilder eloquently stated, “Most of the time, we don’t realize that we are living in the very best time of our life.” We get caught in repetitive routines, chasing after elusive futures, and end up losing sight of the preciousness of the present.

What Would You Do?

Visualize briefly your to-do list for this final year. What would you put on it? Would it be filled with unclimbed mountains, unsaid apologies, unexpressed love? Perhaps it would involve spending more sunrises with loved ones or pursuing a long-dormant passion you tucked away for “later.”

Alan Watts once said, ‘This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing at the moment. To be present.’ Would your final year be characterized by an abundance of presence, where you are truly immersed in each passing moment?

Facing the Big Questions

But let us move beyond the mere checklist of aspirations, where an even deeper reflection awaits. If your time is limited, what does it all mean? What is the purpose of this grand, messy human experience?

Throughout history, philosophers have wrestled with these timeless inquiries. Some posit the existence of a grand design, a cosmic blueprint in which we unwittingly participate. Others view life as a self-fashioned odyssey, where meaning arises from our interactions and personal growth.

And what about you, personally?

Leaving Your Mark

Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedomsto choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Even in the face of the inevitable, we can choose how we live.

Would you endeavor to cultivate a legacy defined by acts of kindness, creating a ripple effect of positivity among those you encounter? Alternatively, would you prioritize personal evolution, embarking on a journey of introspection to gain deeper insights into both yourself and the world around you?

It is all ours to determine.

Finding Peace in the Unknown

The truth is, we don’t have control over the length of our life. But perhaps that’s the beauty of it all. The mystery of life compels us to create meaning, to find purpose in the everyday.

As the Buddhist saying goes, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Maybe the “last year” scenario serves as a powerful reminder to fully embrace the journey, to find joy in the simple act of being alive, and to connect with something bigger than ourselves.

Whether this truly is your last year or not, let it be a year of awakening. A year of living with open eyes and a grateful heart. A year of chasing dreams and mending fences. A year of confronting your fears and embracing the present.

Because after all, isn’t that what life is all about, regardless of how much time we have left?

Author: Paulinus Pandiangan

Saya seorang Katolik, anak ketiga dari 3 bersaudara, ayah dari tiga anak, orang Batak, saat ini bekerja di sebuah pabrik kelapa sawit di Kalimantan Tengah. Saya dilahirkan pada 8 Januari 1983. Capricorn.

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