Many years ago, I came across a news story that reminded me how short life really is. A 16 year old girl named Stacey Mitchell, was a fun-loving, friendly teenager who was well-liked by her peers. But she was tragically murdered right here in Perth, Australia, then her body was dumped in a rubbish bin. What saddened me most wasn’t how tragic her death was, but something I had come across on her Myspace page. It was a countdown to her 17th birthday. The birthday she was never going to celebrate.
I felt utter sadness thinking about that poor girl, who was only two years younger than me. I felt distraught looking at her page, watching as the number of months, weeks and days counted down until her next birthday. I remember turning to my now-husband and telling him, “This is so incredibly sad. She was so excited about turning 17, but now she’ll never get to know what that felt like.”
Photo Credit: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When I saw that birthday countdown timer, I started to reflect back on life and realised something – we all have our own countdowns set in place. We have a timer set for the number of years, months, weeks, days that we have left of our lives. But we don’t know what those numbers are. We don’t know when our lives will end, when a tragedy might occur, when a car accident might turn fatal, when an illness might become something worse, when our time on Earth will be over.
But the thing is, we can’t spend our lives just worrying about those numbers.
You’ve probably heard of the term, ‘bucket list’, meaning ‘a list of things a person wants to achieve or experience, before dying’. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘bucket lists’. Right now, I am the happiest I’ve ever been and this has given me a greater zest for life. I’ve become more passionate about living in the moment, taking on new experiences, making new friends, and starting to do and see things that I’ve always wanted to do and see. My happiness has even changed my attitude towards movies. I once had the mentality of, “I’ll watch that.. one day”, then I realised, what if one day never comes?
You always hear about those stories where terminally ill patients are told, “You only have six months to live”, and then the person decides to experience all the things that they never had a chance to before. They decide to travel the world, get married, tie up loose ends, cross off the things they’ve always wanted to do.
But I believe you shouldn’t wait until you’re told you only have ‘six months to live’ to live life to the fullest.
Don’t be reckless
With everyday life, we have responsibilities to take care of, so it’s understandable that we can’t just up and leave those responsibilities behind.
But living life to the fullest isn’t about being reckless, or about choosing not to think about the consequences.
It’s about living life with meaning.
Tell people that you love them
Don’t feel embarrassed. Don’t believe that you have all the time in the world to tell people that you love them. You honestly don’t. Don’t waste another second mistreating those in your life. Be thankful for them, and show them that you appreciate their presence in your life.
Follow your dreams
In a world where the cost of living is increasing rapidly, a stable income is a necessary part of life – it provides emotional and financial security. But what sort of life are you living if you are depressed, unhappy and lacking purpose? What sort of life are you living if your unhappiness is rubbing off on other people? Do you really want to look back on life thinking you ‘could have’ done this, you ‘could have’ done that? Are you willing to live feeling just content but always wondering ‘what if’? Or are you prepared to have the courage to take risks to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted from life? Keep that stable income, but in the mean time, don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop believing that you can eventually lead the life that you want. Take steps towards achieving that dream. Even if they’re only little steps in the right direction; all those little steps matter.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
The best you can do is give life your best shot. The fact that you’re trying, the fact that you’re moving forward, the fact that you’re making something with your life, that’s what matters. None of us are perfect. Be grateful for the learning experience and pick yourself back up. Sometimes, in order to come to the right solution, you have to explore the wrong ones.
The countdown of life
None of us knows what numbers are ticking away on our countdown. None of us knows when our number will be up.
But what we do know is this: if we make every moment count and live life with purpose, then we are making the best of the time that we do have.
Don’t spend your life worrying what other people think, comparing yourself to others, being too scared to take risks, mistakenly believing that you have all the time in the world. Because sadly, you don’t.
So, try to make the best out of life and remember this:
“It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”