Someone said: “Live every day like it’s your last.” And then many people repeated it.
But you don’t do it. And thank God. Because it’s terrible advice. When exactly would these “last days” start happening? And how long would you actually live after you start? Would you ever brush your teeth? Eat your brussell sprouts? Make a dollar? Save a dollar? Do a push up? Put out the trash?
Let’s be honest, if you lived your life like every day were your last, you’d be toothless. You’d balloon up to 500 pounds before crashing back down to 85 after you’d spent all your money and couldn’t be bothered to apply for a credit card, because even if it had instant approval, your credit score hit negative 3000. You would never have taken the time to learn to paint or play the guitar or swing dance or any other skill or art it takes time to master. You’d live in squalor as you’d never bother to clean anything.
But what should we be saying? I mean, we hear that phrase and we’re all like: “Yeah! I should do that! I should carpe the diem! I should raise my fist and manifest my motivational poster!”
I think the “last day” thing is hard to do because it’s so hyperbolic, it’s impossible. But what if we scaled it back and acknowledge that there are lots of responsibilities that need to be balanced and you can’t just eat chocolate fudge brownies washed down with milk shakes and single malt whiskey, getting massaged on the beach in Koh Phangan or jumping out of airplanes. Maybe by scaling it back we can find something we can actually live by. Maybe we should be saying:
“Live 29 out of 30 days like you want to live to 95 so you can live one day out of every month like it’s your last for the next 50 years. Call to say hello every week to those people you would call to say goodbye to if today was your last. If you owe them an apology for something you did 10 years ago or 40, give it. If you owe them forgiveness for something they did 10 years ago, or 40, give that. See the people you care about as often as you can. Don’t waste time on people you know you never will. Eat chocolate fudge brownies on even numbered weeks and milkshakes on odd and chase them both with single malt whiskey. Go to the beach on Koh Phangan (or insert your fantasy destination) and get massages at least once in your life, or every other year, if you can afford it. Spend quality time with your closest loved ones (almost) every day. Because in them you’ll live on even if today is, in fact, your last. Every year, give generously to the cause that means the most to you. Spend 20 minutes every day making peace with yourself and/or your God. And by all means, write your will.”
Unfortunately, that won’t fit on a motivational poster.