Live Like I’m Gonna Die

on June 16, 2014 in Misc

Several months ago I started developing a weird mental habit.

I started to think, What if I only have a year or two to live?  What if I only have a couple more birthdays, tops, and then… Whamo!  I’m a goner.

Lately, I’ve even started telling myself that I only have a couple more years to go.  You know how that make me feel?

Liberated.  Strangely but definitely liberated.  Free.  Even happier.

don't worry

I mean, it’s not like I’m about to raid my 401k.  I haven’t given up saving money.

But in the meantime, I haven’t been very concerned about not getting financially ahead or that my car is making an unhealthy squeaking noise.  So what if I have to get a new car?  It’ll be the last one I’ll ever have to shop for.  Such relief!

I’ve already begun to spend less on clothes because what I have will more than last me to the end.  I’m even getting along better with a couple family members and I’ve become more social and outgoing.  And I’ve stopped putting off plans for summer fun because this could be my this is my last or second-to-last summer.

happy dog

Realistically, I might have a couple decades ahead of me.  But see, by nature I can be a serious worry-wart.  We’re talking worrying, fretting, habitual day-after-day planning.  I’ve also had to be on my own most of my adult life which means I am SOOOO TIRED of looking after myself.  Really worn-out tired.

Yet when I gradually decided to Live Like I’m Gonna Die, my life really did start to feel easier.  Lighter.

And how is this change affecting me as a writer?

Well, I’m not planning a book or script on the subject because there are already a ton of stories with characters who learn they will soon die (tragedies), or wrongly think they’ll die but in fact will live (comedies).  What this attitude is doing for me as a writer, however, is to make me more focused.  I’m determined to get my two Charity MacCay books published, traditionally or indie.  I’ll write that very short non-fiction work.  And for fun I’ll start that screenplay.  But that’s it.  I’m finding myself simultaneously disconnecting from writing because I want to have a real life with what time is left me.

So now I do have to ask—have you ever thought about what you would do if you were going to die soon?  Not if you had just a few days or months, but a few years at most?

Kinda funny, isn’t it, how thoughts of THE END can make us think of a new beginning.

14 Responses to “Live Like I’m Gonna Die”

  1. A real life is more satisfying.
    I plan to live until I’m a hundred. I have so much I want to accomplish and it will take me another fifty years to do it…

  2. The tough thing is, if we knew we were going to die soon, we’d probably make short-term choices. We wouldn’t be as frugal with money, we’d eat whatever we wanted, etc. But we can’t live that way because we may live another 20 years or longer…and we need to plan for the future, as well. If I knew I had only a few years, I’d definitely travel more and spend more time with family. And write. Because writing makes me happy!

  3. Oh you live alone? I do too. I’d love to hear what you are investing in with your 401K. I have mine split between international emerging markets and a simple Large cap index fund right now. I moved out of Large Cap growth and small cap a little over a month ago.

    I think that what you are doing by shortening your life span in your head is similar to what Neil deGrasse Tyson said with regard to people lacking a cosmic perspective. Tyson said that if more and more people would just think of the Earth as the pale blue dot that Carl Sagan saw when NASA ordered Voyager to turn around and take a picture, we would all be in a better place. So maybe in a way, what you are really trying to do is make the world seem small so that you can put your mind around the idea that people worry too much over things that don’t matter.

  4. Helena says:

    Alex – And you’ve already accomplished so much! All the best for your upcoming fifty years of greatness.

  5. Helena says:

    Stephanie – Exactly true, which is why I’m only using this technique to make myself relax. Writing used to make me happy, not so much now, but since you love it that’s wonderful!

  6. Helena says:

    Mike – I haven’t moved out of any funds since I first invested, and I really should review them and make some changes. I’ll look up what funds I have and email them to you, although judging by your investing acumen you likely don’t want to use mine as the best example (but they’re pretty good).

    I love Neil de Grasse Tyson, and sometimes I can have way too much of a cosmic perspective. But I STILL sweat the small stuff and can feel defeated by petty stuff, so by telling myself (and I can be easily fooled) that I have only a couple more years, I really do relax more. Weird technique, I know.

  7. I change out of my core funds in my 401K about four or five times a year. Gotta go with the flow. I don’t have a buy and forget it mentality as I view even the stuff that I can’t touch for 20 years as potentially “my money.”

  8. As a rule, I’m not a worrier. Mostly I just deal with things as they occur and then let them go.

  9. Helena says:

    Carol — You are such a smart, sensible lady, Carol. Me, I can let some worries go but other others hang around in me like bats.

  10. Helena says:

    Michael – It IS your money, so you’re very smart to be keeping an eye on it. Thanks for the good advice.

  11. Old Kitty says:

    Oh Carol!! You so speak such sobering truths!! I totally think, gee-whizz I ain’t getting younger and what have I got to show for it!??! So yes I think that’s totally why I started a new first draft after months of fumbling along. It’s always been important to me that I write stories that people like but now that my own mortality is staring me in the face the impetus to make my mark as a writer has sharpened somewhat. I don’t have the luxury of youth anymore! I wish you all the best with your goals! I know you’ll achieve them soon cos you’re utterly fabulous and focused! Take care
    x

  12. Helena says:

    Old Kitty – My own youth got up and went many a year ago, damn it. You’re so fabulous yourself that you’re already leaving your mark with all your blogging fans! Now it’s time to share your wonderful stories.

  13. Some might say it’s morbid, but I can relate. I try to live intentionally — maybe not as though today could be my last, but something close to that. Time is precious, and I’m not about to waste it.

  14. Helena says:

    Milo – Sometimes being morbid makes me get off my behind and get things done. And yes, time is precious especially because it goes by so fast!