Sometimes the hardest part of doing something is getting started. It’s easy to get paralyzed by fears: failure, success, even just being sub-optimal. It’s funny, it doesn’t take much life experience to know that doing something is almost always better than doing nothing, yet when the time comes to actually take action, we sit, paralyzed.
I’ve been thinking about starting this blog for about five months now. This is especially ironic because the inspiration for this blog was a post I read about making every day of your life count. We’ve all heard advice to live each day as if it could be your last. It really could be, but there have been so many days that weren’t, it can be hard to get very serious about that. Eh, death happens, supposedly, but so far it’s never happened to me, so maybe it never will, right? Hell, I barely believe middle age will really happen to me (even though it already is), let alone death. But I found this great post about counting down how many days you’re likely to have left, and using that as a tool to remind yourself that life is finite and precious.
I followed the directions in the post and figured out that I had about 17,000 days left, thus the title of the blog. I really wanted to write about trying to build a satisfying life and making every day count. Well, I’ve counted them. It’s 16,828 now. (I’m scheduled to die 10/10/2056. The actual date doesn’t matter, it’s watching the days tick away.) On one hand, I’m frustrated with myself for not starting this sooner, when I’ve been thinking about it and wanting to do it for so long. But on the other hand, I have made my days count in other ways. The day countdown has worked as nothing else has for me. It’s quantified the concept of “life is short”–it’s made it concrete.
Obviously, you can’t really live every day as if it were your last. If you really knew you only had one day left (or a week, or a month), would you go to work? No way, right? I sure wouldn’t. I’d try to gather everyone I love somewhere awesome to say goodbye and enjoy our last time together. If I had six months instead of just one, I’d still quit my job, cash in the retirement accounts, and see the world, maybe learn to hang-glide or something. The thing is, most of us won’t die in the next day, or week, or year, so we do things to take care of ourselves in the future. Putting money into retirement investments, replacing my old leaky windows with new energy-efficient ones, waxing the car, buying plane tickets for the holidays now while they’re cheap… it makes sense to do these things, if I am still going to be around.
I think it’s a balance. It’s not practical to live every day as if it was your last, but you can try to really live each day. There are some things you have to do that are more existing than living, like getting the oil changed on the car, going to work (if this isn’t the case for you, my hat’s off to you!). But don’t let that be your whole day. Make it a goal to do something joyful or meaningful to you every day.
How am I doing? Any day that I take a walk, write, or create in some other way, I count. Any day that I connect with someone I love, I count. Any day I truly savor an experience, whether it’s food, art, nature, love, whatever, I count. I count most days, and having this as a goal has helped a lot. There are still a lot of changes I want to make in my life, but my life is better for having this as a goal and seeing that little number ticking down to remind me. I challenge anyone who reads this to do the same. You know life is short–we say it all the time. Find out how short, and use it to remind you to live each day.