If I Had One Month to Live

Musings on the Brevity of Life

Photo by Amir Esrafili on Pexels.com

I have been a spiritual seeker for decades. I have found books that inspired me, made me cry, made me angry. Books that have made me question the nature of reality and even myself.

One of the spiritual book gems I’ve read recently was a classic: “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer. Besides teaching you how to stop identifying with the monkey mind and play the role of the observer, the author gives us one of the most powerful lessons in one of the last few chapters of the book: a lesson on the brevity of life. That lesson has touched my heart in a way I still cannot explain, and I’m excited to share some of this gem with you. 

I don’t need to remind you here how brief life is, and that it can be over at any moment. We all know everything is impermanent and temporary. Just the fact you are breathing now it’s not a guarantee you’ll be breathing soon. 

But how comfortable are you with making death your best teacher? 

That’s exactly what you read. That’s what Singer explores in this one chapter. By asking questions such as “what if you had one month or one week left to live,” he prompts us to dig deep and he sort of encourages you to make an experiment. Nothing can teach you more about life than the concept that death is always around the corner. That at any moment you may take a breath in, and no breath will come out. 

I’d like to propose that we all do this experiment. I’ve added my own questions and suggestions.

How would you live if you had one week left? Let’s suppose nobody knew about it and there was nothing you could do so you decided to keep it a secret. Let’s also suppose you’d still go to work (or school) because you need to get more money for your family before you leave this plane. This way it will stop the whole “I’d quit my job, never pay my bills, and just stay home with my loved ones.”

It’s just natural to want to quit everything and be surrounded by the beautiful and the dear to the heart. 

But nope. I want you to stay with your current life, including the crap and the blessings. With all trials and tribulations. Let’s give you some good free time too so you can live at both ends. 

But how would you live?

How would you go to work knowing it may be your last week?

How would you see the people at work or school now before the eyes of Death?

How would you dress? Who would you make smile or try to impress?

What would you do after work? Who would you see? Who would you call? 

By asking these basic questions, I invite you to dig deeper and find a few answers. So take a moment and think about it.

Ultimately I challenge you with one final question: why weren’t you doing some of those things before you “knew” you’d die? That’s what Singer eventually intends to rub all over our faces. What is stopping us from living from the heart, from a place of love? Why do we need to know we will lose things before we learn to value the beauty of the present moment?

If you had a week to live, would all your worries matter? (I assume some still may). Would that thing your friend said to you a while ago still upset you? Would you argue with your co-worker about him making mistakes and you paying the price? 

Would you give your pet more rubs? 

Who would you say “I love you” to?

Would you still be “you” if you only have a limited time to live? 

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