Over the holidays, I read a book. In one day. (200 something pages!) This is significant for two reasons:
1. I rarely read books.
2. When I do read an entire book it usually takes me several weeks to get through it.
I read "The Last Lecture" -- I'm sure you've heard of it. I loved it. I loved it as much for the perspective refresher than any of Randy Pausch's actual anecdotes, though they were charming, too. In case you aren't aware, the premise is that Dr. Pausch (a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon) is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and given 3-6 months of good health. The book and the lecture (which you can watch HERE) are his attempts to "put himself in a bottle that would eventally wash up on the beach for his children." It was a bottle full of tears for me! Sheesh!
And it's been cause for a lot of introspection over the past week or so. I keep asking myself how I would change my life if my expected lifespan could be measured in months. And what keeps me from living that way all along, without the dim prognosis?
Here are a few things I'd do/change if I knew I was a short-timer (nothing too exotic):
- I'd move to Southern Oregon. I love Texas, but I love my family more.
- I'd spend a lot of time near the ocean on the Southern Oregon/Northern California coast, sleeping in bed and breakfasts, rummaging local thrift shops for vintage treasures I could bequeath to Lily and searching for the best fish and chips in town.
- I'm sure I'd spend a fair amount of time in front of and behind cameras, writing letters and recording thoughts, trying to make my memory durable for my children -- I'd want them to have the sound of my voice, the sight of my face, and my feelings about them preserved for easy access. (I'd finally have the impetus I need to print these many blogged entries about our life).
- I'd be less reserved about sharing my feelings of love, gratitude, admiration, appreciation with people. I wouldn't want to leave people wondering how I felt about them.
- Other than that, I'd just want to spend all of my time with Nate and the children close by. Only traveling to natural places (mountains, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, canyons, etc.) we could get to in the car (I hate to fly and airports make my blood pressure rise).
- Oh, and I'd try to keep from crying all the time. And I'd probably splurge on finer (for me) foods more often -- sharper cheese, fresher produce, real butter, pine nuts, Odwalla Juices.
You? I'd love to hear some of your thoughts about how you'd live differently under a different set of lifespan assumptions and, in your opinion, what keeps us from that kind of life when we're healthy and expecting longevity?