So, just like me you probably have been told time and time again that you need to “live in the moment.” The alternative line is that we should “live every day to the fullest.” This certainly sounds great, but what the heck does it mean?
I have been evaluating my life, not only what I have accomplished, but more importantly what I want to have the rest of it look like. “Live every day to the fullest” could mean just take it slowly, relax and eliminate all stress from your life. Or, it could mean that you should go out and climb a mountain, jump out of an airplane or go scuba diving with the sharks at the Barrier Reef.
What it probably means is different for different people. Some of us need to jump out of an airplane while others need to sit out on a deck overlooking the forest or a lake and read a novel, or just take a nap.
However, I submit to you that there is one universal task that would fit the definition for all of us. That task is to not contemplate our death.
It is hard to enjoy life, “live life to the fullest” and “live in the moment” if we spend time thinking about our death. When we are diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer we are told that our life will most likely be shorter than we had originally contemplated.
Many people do not have to confront their mortality thus they live their life as if they will live forever. People are very good at ignoring the idea of their own mortality. We all know that we will die at some time in the future, but we all operate as if we still have 100 years of life ahead. Being diagnosed with cancer makes it much more difficult to continue to ignore your personal mortality. When you are diagnosed, the tree is shaken and we realize that our fruit will fall out of the tree.
Being diagnosed means that we must decide how to live the rest of our life. Answering this question might be the most difficult and most important task you will ever face in life. There is no going back and there are no mulligans.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW