Probably some of you have come across the idea of treating today as though it were one’s last day on earth. The exercise seems to have merit at first glance; making amends, taking care of important details, expressing love to those near and dear to you, and so forth. But if you think hard about it, you might find it to be a little problematic, and even contradictory to what one might hope for. For layered in with the good intention is likely to be a dollop of guilt for things done or undone, causing a need to make amends. Or if not guilt, then sentimentality, as one considers with sadness all that will no longer be possible. And finally, a mad dash to be better, speak better, think better.

I think a far better exercise might be to select a day in your life to treat as though it is your only day, not your last day. To then look at the prior days as prior lives, and possible future days as future lives. What might such an exercise entail? To begin, the situation I am in today, the place I live, the people who I will or will not see, the necessary activities for today, all are a result of prior lives lived, so I can see the idea of karma in play. Because of yesterday, and the actions I undertook yesterday, my life today is subject to both the constraints and the opportunities that I am presented with this morning. No sense in wishing that it could be different, as this day is the one day of my life. So I began with this idea of acceptance. If today is my entire life, then I accept what has been given me and live my day.

I can also look at the hours of the day differently. My birth upon awakening in the morning. The possibilities of how I will live today that I might consider as the morning unfolds. The full maximum of noon time, as the sun and my life are both at zenith. Then, the maturation of the day through the afternoon as my life slowly unfolds, regardless of the situations in which I find myself. The beginning of the evening, dinner and quiet moments of satisfaction, followed later by the first feelings of tiredness, as the hours pass into night. Then, perhaps some thought given to summing up the day of my life, in the last minutes before sleep comes. And with sleep comes the end of the day, the one day of my life.

I do have the knowledge gained from prior days, prior lives, of what is important. I see that the little things that upset me always would blow over, and, learning from that and knowing that my time is so short, measured only in hours, it is a simpler matter to not be in reaction to all the unexpected events that take place today. I am free, also, of having to prove myself, either in my eyes, or in the eyes of others. And I have learned that kindness in the moment is a gift that I am capable of giving, as I am on this one day less consumed with my own desires. The day will provide.

It is also an exercise in beginning to approach the idea of death, not as a distant hypothetical, but as an absolute fact. The hours of my life which remain, whether two or twenty, are passing through the hourglass as I go about my day. So, perhaps, some acceptance of this, also, might be a little more possible in this exercise, for there is less of a possibility of evasion.

Finally, to live today as though it were my one and only day might provide me with the opportunity to have a life well lived, one that I might feel was a proper use of the gift of life I have been given. The philosophers speak of such things, but it usually seems too distant of a goal for us. But if today was it, then it is not too far of a goal at all. As far as future days, future lives, they will be lived in their own course, at their own time, but not today, today is for this one sacred life.

Comments are welcome.



  1. Dennis, when I see your latest post in my inbox, I’m invited to stop for a few minutes and make myself available to the thought you offer. Your mentation, views, questions, and suggestions inevitably bring my own into resonance, evoking feeling and intention. After receiving this kind of help from 35 posts, it’s time for me to express my appreciation.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Bill. I am struck by your remark about both feeling and intention being evoked. That requires something on your part that is very much an active participation, and not as easy as it might appear. Best wishes, Dennis

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