Life Choices

The Days We Have Left; Live Each One Like It’s Your Last

Darren Matthews
Last Updated:
An elderly man sat resting, or contemplating the days we have left.
Table of Contents

I've been on this planet for approx. 18,000 days.

My calculations reveal I have 11,989 days left – assuming I can make eighty. These are the days I have left. Some might not like the thought, but with the passing of my stepdad I wanted to know, no, I needed to know.

The answer surprised me. Of course, it hinges on me living to see my eightieth birthday. My stepdad didn’t. He fell short by 1,500 days. It doesn’t sound many but turn days into years and its half a decade.

Five years is a lot.

Mortality and the lack of it comes into focus when you lose someone close. I can’t evade the passing of time. Of course, I can live in denial. I can kid myself I’ve got time on my side; besides, twelve thousand days is a substantial number.

Twelve thousand feels okay.

Confirmation bias does what if does best – and fools me. I can’t accept it as my mind looks to give context to my remaining days. My goal of eighty years is 30,000 days. Uh-oh, I’m two thirds through – a third to go.

Of course, we tell ourselves whatever we want when it comes to the days we have left. No one wants to confront the elephant in the room, so most people have no idea. But death is a certainty for all of us.

No – one can escape it: death and taxes – these are the only certainties of life.

Why the days we have left matters.

Thirty thousand days assumes the average life span. Each day is a microcosm of life, a blink of an eye revealing one act in our story of life. Days roll into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Hiding behind the blurring of days is another truth.

The older you get; the faster time goes.

My grandparents told me this, my parents told my children too. The mistake we make is we think of age as an increasing number, which it is. But in the context of our time alive, the older we become, the less time we have left.

We don’t see the days getting less.

My stepdad didn’t see death coming. He and mum moved home, all with the ambition of visiting museums and sites of beauty near their new home. He didn’t see the slide he was on towards day zero.

He couldn’t see the days he had left.

Tomorrow never comes.

Of course, you can’t live your live with one eye on the countdown clock to day zero. But, at the same time, you can’t – and shouldn’t - ignore it either.

“Live every day like it’s your last, and someday you’ll be right.” —Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs spoke with absolute clarity and correctness when he said, live every day like it's your last, and someday you’ll be right. We can’t foresee the future. Despite our best efforts to avoid it, entropy can still strike.

How often do we put things off?

“I’ll do it tomorrow.” “We can paint the wall tomorrow.” “I’ll start my new diet tomorrow”. And so on. We delay and delay, thinking tomorrow will be brighter, drier, calmer, - all somehow different. But what if tomorrow isn’t there?

The risk of doing nothing is so much more than nothing.

Entropy is always there. The forces of disorder, randomness, and uncertainty will intervene. It is an indisputable law of nature. When tomorrow becomes tomorrow’s tomorrow then any certainty you might be holding onto will disappear.

The day we have left is today.

My stepdad’s passing, which came from the rigorous hold entropy had on him has given me much to ponder. I am often a tomorrow man. I live in a home where tomorrow is one of the most popular words we use.

I realise, regardless of whether my seventeen thousand days is just over halfway, or I’ve got a third of my days left, it’s irrelevant. We don’t know what’s coming. 2020 has shown us how naïve we are in believing the strength of our mortality. COVID-19 and the lockdowns have forced us to stop. To put life on hold as we knew it.

How many stopped and waited for life to begin again?

COVID didn’t stop my clock ticking. It didn’t stop anyone’s. A year on and we’re all 365 days closer to day zero. As we stopped and waited for tomorrow, we all forgot the clock was ticking.

For all the worry of growing older, of worrying about the days we have left, there is one certainty. The day we have left is today.

Today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.

It’s taken the passing of my stepdad to see this. Tomorrow is word we should shy away from. We should embrace today with gusto, for all we know it is the only day we have left.

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