After you recover from the emotional shock, what would you do if you found out you have exactly six more months to live? That was the question on a radio talk show recently. There were as many answers as there were people who phoned in to the program to express their thoughts.
Several of the callers said they would rededicate their lives to their religions or to some form of spirituality. Many of those callers went into great detail about how they were confident their personality or soul would survive and they’d exist forever in some form of afterlife. Many of the believers said they would live the rest of their days on Earth in ways that better conform to their religions. They would pray more often, read their holy books, and spend more time doing “spiritual things”.
Most of the religious callers were Christians, but there were also a couple of Muslims, a scattering of New Agers, a Hindu, and a Buddhist. The New Agers focused more on continuing their “spiritual development” in this lifetime so they could ascend to “higher levels” after their “transitions”.
One female caller believed that if someone told you that you only have six months to live, it would be a medical prognosis and that you’d probably be bedridden and most likely in and out of consciousness so the question is moot. Most likely, we do not have the luxury of finding out how much longer we have to live. There are heart attacks, traffic accidents, and violent crime that can happen without warning to anybody. A person might only have a few hours, if any, to live.
The radio host reminded the caller that the six month question is only an intellectual exercise that probably has little basis in reality. He thanked the caller for her response and took the next callers.
The tone of the answers changed slightly after the female caller. Several people answered that they would reexamine their past and present lives and would prioritize different things. Some of them thought they’d grow closer to their families by showing more love to their children, spouses, and parents.
More than one caller said they would quit their jobs and spend the remainder of their time spending less time with people they don’t like and more time with family and true friends. Their thoughts went along the lines of “stop and smell the roses”.
One of the callers said he has already been working on a video journal that will be given to his children after he is dead and gone. His suggestion caused more people to call with ideas for journaling and writing in diaries.
Soon, though, the callers began talking about world travel and accomplishing their bucket lists. Some folks said they’d finally do the things they’ve put off “until later”.
The radio discussion caused me to pause and ponder what I would do if I only had six months to live given the scenario that doesn’t include being in a dull state of mind and being restricted to a hospital bed.
I asked myself if I would actually follow through on the ideal, beautiful things I have always wanted to do. Would I actually fly to Russia, or even visit Argentina? Would there be a large family and friends reunion that is not my funeral?
Is there a chance that I’d spend some of the six months doing charity work? Yes, there are things a person ideally could do during the final six months, but would any of us actually do them?
Would I hurriedly go around fulfilling my final to do list or would I eject most of it and concentrate on mindfully living out the rest of my life in simple ways? Will I die feeling good about how I lived my life?
It’s good to think about what one might do if one only has six months in which to productively live. The question has the ability to link a person’s ideals with actual possibilities.
It’s also a good question to ask of oneself twice each year.