How would we behave if we knew we had six months to live? Three? One? Why don’t we live like that all the time? The first thought that comes to mind is that if we lived like there were no tomorrow, it would be hard to build anything or work toward long term goals or practice delayed gratification, which is a necessary aspect of peace, serenity and mature contentment. Who could be persuaded to work? Or plan for home improvements? Or self-improvement? I’d eat what I wanted, drink what I liked and damn the consequences. Hell, I’m hoping to live to a ripe old age and I still end up damning the consequences with alarming regularity. So not having to worry about the consequences is probably not in my best interests. As I think about this, living like it’s my last day or last month looks too much like my 15-year-olds’ definition of YOLO. Whose kissing cousin is my old friend, F–k it. Not the best friend to have.
But what about the other side of that action? The carpe diem imperative that exhorts us to stop assuming we have all the time in the world and to take a lesson from James Bond On Her Majesty’s Secret Service? There is absolutely no guarantee that we’ll even have tomorrow. The zombie apocalypse could be upon us, not to mention all manner of dystopian futures that our own arrogance may rain down upon us—including greenhouse gas summers and nuclear winters. Or, as one of my bosses used to say when telling me to make sure someone knew what I was doing and where all my work was located, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. So I believe in seizing the day, as I’ve written about before. And I work very hard to live without regrets, which includes saying what needs to be said, even when it’s difficult to say, and doing what needs to be done, even when it’s not remotely comfortable. Because we may not get another chance. Taking a wait and see approach could result in severe myopia if our vision were to be prematurely blocked—by illness, injury, death, or any other eminently possible reversals of fortune.
For Trez and Selena, the lack of time together sharpens their focus to a lethal edge. There is no time for bullshit, or embarrassment or fear of failure. The dearth of moments requires putting on their big kid undies and telling it like it is, with brutal, excruciating honesty. These were among the most visceral scenes in a book I’ve read in a long time, or at least since some of JR Ward’s earlier novels. She writes the real deal, and through her description of the words and feelings of Trez and Selena, I felt motivated and resolved to be even less complacent about how I spend my time.
Chad Kroeger asks us if we would spend our last day giving away every dime we have, mending a broken heart, or forgiving our enemies? Would we engage in meaningful activity or anesthetize our pain and fear in hedonistic and selfish pursuits? I don’t know. Because while I’m exquisitely aware that with each passing day time is running out, I can’t say I’m living on the edge of my peak experiences. The balance, as always, is precarious. We need to look forward to our absolutely-not-guaranteed-future enough to plan and strive and seek. At the same time, we need to abstain from assuming that future so that when opportunity knocks, we open that door and let out a resounding, “YOLO!” So for me, when we’re down to the count and counting moments, count me in.