P: There was a businessman who achieved great success after years of hard work. Unfortunately, however, the man fell ill before he could finally enjoy the fruits of his labor. He was diagnosed with final stage cancer and was informed that he only had one year left to live. Upon hearing the sad news, his friends visited him at the hospital to comfort him and give him their support.
As fate would have it, one of the friends who was returning home after visiting him at the hospital got into a car accident and was killed on the spot. From the perspective of the friend who lost his life in the car accident, he had felt sorry for his friend who had only one year to live and consoled him when he himself actually had only one day to live. The moral of the story is that we really don’t know what will happen to us in the very next second. While you are worried about someone else’s life, you could be facing your own death.
We all know that everyone will ultimately die but, subconsciously, we go through life as if we are going to live forever. Only when we are faced with our own death do we finally realize that life is not infinite and accept our immortality.
I had my first encounter with death when I was in middle school. My housemate fell while riding the bicycle, and he died instantly when he hit his head on a small rock. This accident was a great shock to me. My friend who was perfectly fine one minute was dead the next minute.
Incidentally, during my adolescent years, I was quite sickly. Even running a 100 meter dash would leave me with blue spots all over my body and make me faint. In addition to being sickly, the monk who ordained me told my mother that I would die young, so his words always stayed in my mind. He did not say how young I would die, but I figured I would live to about 40 years old. However, his remark served not as a fear but as a great motivation that enabled me to apply myself fully to everything I did in my life because I was determined to make the most of my given time.
Since I believed that I may only live to be in my 40’s, while most people live to be in their 70’s and 80’s, I was determined to live my life with twice or three times the intensity of other people. I pushed myself so hard that I fainted from physical exhaustion several times. However, after I passed the age of 40, I felt relieved that I had already lived beyond my life expectancy and was no longer anxious. Now, I feel as though my life beyond the age 40 is a gift I didn’t expect to have. Because I am still alive, I work hard, but even if I were to suddenly die, I wouldn’t feel bad at all. That’s why, I don’t particularly have regrets about any unrealized goals or much worries in life. I always thought I would not live beyond the age of 40, but ever since I passed that age and have continued to live, I was able to approach life with ease and became more relaxed.
When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has only one year to live, the common mistake that the patient and the people around him make is believing that having only one year to live causes the suffering. However, dwelling on the thought that he has only one year to live is what causes the suffering and makes him waste the precious time left in his life. If you only have a year to live, instead of worrying about dying, live every day to its fullest with 10 times the intensity of others. Spend your days paying back to others anything you may owe, pay compliments to those you never did before, and be generous to those in need with the things you held onto so tightly as if you would live forever. If you can live happily in this manner for a year, it will be the best way to live the remaining days of your life.
We don’t think of much wasting away today because we believe we will live forever, but death may come at any moment. Therefore, if we do our best as if today were the last day of our lives, we can live a life without regrets even if we died today.