herald

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Live each day like it will be your very last

TICKING CLOCK: Cancer victim Jordan Ferguson reminded us that life is short, so live it to the full

The desperately sad case of the 35-year-old father from County Cork who died recently from lung cancer got me thinking.

Jordan Ferguson, from Kinsale, passed away last Friday less than two months after being diagnosed with the deadly disease.

During his illness, he wrote a goodbye letter to his nine-year-old son, Sebastian, giving him fatherly advice on how to live his life. Ferguson also wrote to well-known figures asking them to contribute to a 'Dear Sebastian' letter, and the results will be published in early 2009.

What a fantastic way to go. With grace, aplomb and thinking about how those closest to you are going to be affected by your passing.

But it got the cogs in my brain turning: what would I do, if, God forbid, I was told I only had two months to live? Ferguson had said in an interview that he was glad he had lived his life "for the moment".

"I really have done a lot," he said. "Some things which I did, with money for example, were irresponsible. Instead of investing in an apartment I took myself on round-the-world trips. I very much lived for the moment, which now I'm so glad I did."

It would be interesting to reflect similarly on whether or not I would be satisfied with the way I'd lived my life. Would I have many regrets? Of course everyone is bound to have a few, but it's better, in my opinion, to regret things you've done than those you haven't.

There's always an excuse not to do things right this minute. Either the timing isn't right, or you don't have enough money, or you're just waiting for a sign to tell you that now is indeed a good time. When am I going to travel the world? Hopefully it won't be too late to do so when I decide I want to do it and when I have the money to do so. When am I going to finish writing that book that I've been talking about for years? What am I waiting for -- a signal from God?

Cooking

When am I going to start cooking properly every day, instead of buying expensive and nutritionally suspect ready meals? When am I going to visit those art galleries on my doorstep that I'm always 'too busy' to go near? When am I going to take up yoga again, which I always claim that I do anyway? When am I going to pass my driving test? And when am I going to strike a healthy life/work balance whereby I can earn enough money to keep me going without letting work run my life?

I don't know the answer to all these questions. All I can say is: soon, I promise. But that's because I presume that I have the luxury of time on my side, so there's no need to do anything hasty. But how do I know that?

All of our clocks are ticking, and sometimes you run out of time when you're least expecting it, like Jordan Ferguson. But how do I, or any of us, know how much time we have left? The simple answer is that we don't; we never can. Luckily for Ferguson, he had lived the kind of life he could be proud of. But how many of us could say that?

The 'Dear Sebastian' letters also got me thinking about what I'd say to my family and those closest to me, should I be told that my clock is about to stop ticking. Of course I'd tell them how much they mean to me. But what's stopping me from doing that anyway -- why should it take impending death for me to say how I really feel?

Jordan Ferguson has given me a lot of food for thought. We should all be living each day as though it's our last. Because you just never know.

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