If each of us knew the date of our death many years in advance, wouldn’t we live more effectively, stop wasting time on trifles, and pursue our dreams like greyhounds pursue game?
I think we would, which is why I’ve just written on a sticky note 19,710, the number of days I estimated to have left until my death. I have decided that 75 years is a reasonable age for me to die at, considering that I have always been in good health, I don’t smoke or drink, and life expectancy tends to increase as civilization advances.
My paternal grandmother was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked. Her husband did, and his lungs are fine. She is 73, and has five years left at most. But considering her age, her other ailments and illnesses, and her decision to refuse chemotherapy, she has probably less than 12-18 months.
This got me thinking. All of us were diagnosed with death when we were born into this giddy world. Since we had enough sense to tie our own shoelaces we knew that we are going to die someday.
And yet we never seem bothered by that thought, and we often leave to tomorrow what we can do today, and postpone following our dreams, and sometimes waste years doing not much. I’m only 21, but I’ve certainly wasted a few years already.
I think the problem is that we don’t have a clear date, only a someday, which is so vague that we can relegate it to the attic of our memory and forget about it. Maybe in the future our birth certificates will have written on them, under the day of our birth, the estimated day of our death.
And maybe that date, rather than to unnerve us and take the unpredictability out of our lives, will make us more efficient and exact, and ultimately, happier.
Tomorrow I will throw to the trash the 19,710 sticky note, and write on a new one 19,709… Of course, mishaps may happen sooner, but I already feel I have a little control over my fate.
I will use the days left to me wisely. There is much that I would like to do. But first I will finish Oliver and Katherine, my first novel. I would like to read from it to my grandmother before she dies.