Imagine that this is it. In approximately 15 minutes you will draw your last breath. What are you going to do? There’s no time for a bucket list or a flight to anywhere exotic, so you’d better look around and find something in your life worth celebrating.
I did this exercise yesterday after reading Michael A.Singer’s The Untethered Soul. He writes that the grim reaper is stalking everyone. Somebody died doing exactly what you are doing right now. Yes, really. Death can come at any minute and Singer urges the reader to do something imagining that they are about to croak.
He writes:”Feel grateful to death for giving you another day, another experience, and for creating the scarcity that makes life so precious. If you do this, your life will no longer be yours to waste; it will be yours to appreciate. Death actually helps you get your life back by making you pay attention to the moment.”
This resonated with me, so when I took the short walk home from the station that I have done countless times, I imagined I only had 15 minutes left to live. It is an unremarkable route, but yesterday, when I didn’t waste a single second, it was a little slice of heaven.
The first thing that struck me was how slowly I move when I am trying to be in the present moment – life normally passes me by in a blur. I kept stopping to marvel at a tree I had never noticed or stick my nose into some blooming shrubbery. I walked through the front door with a sheen of pollen on my face yesterday.
I noticed the colour of the fresh new leaves as the sunlight hit them, I watched the way vegetation moves effortlessly with the breeze and I was knocked out by how fantastic everything smelt. Why hadn’t I noticed any of this in the 32 years I’ve been taking this particular route? Even the graffiti on the phone box had a certain kind of beauty about it.
Do this exercise. Sure, you’ll sink back into old habits soon afterwards and forget all about the fact that death is breathing down your neck. You’ll be irritated by late running trains, dog shit on the pavement and boy racers breaking the speed limit in their souped up Subaru’s (if you’re old like me) but once you’ve reminded yourself of how amazing it all is on this planet of ours, you’ll want to experience the moment again and again.
I plan to try this exercise with other things. My children for example, although I am sure they will think it ultra weird when I go all intense on them. My lunch. The supermarket. That Easter egg in the fridge. Everyone and everything is magical when you think it’s the last time you’ll ever experience it. Go on, give it a try. What have you got to lose? It’s free and I guarantee it will make your spirits soar.