What Would You Say if You Had 15 Minutes To Live?

May 31, 2011 | ,

I just signed up for #Trust30, sponsored by The Domino Project. As it says on the website, “#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future.”

Sounds, good, right? So today’s prompt is from the amazing Gwen Bell:
You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

Wow. Intense. When I sat down to write on 750words.com with the timer set for 15 minutes, I had absolutely no intention of publishing whatever would come out of this exercise. But by the time I finished, I thought, What better message to share than what comes flowing out in that tense moment of imagining one has reached the end? Here we go (only edited for typos—I am an editor, after all—and to add some paragraphs so it’s easier to read).

OK, so no pressure… 15 minutes to live… what story must I write? The message I want to leave behind is that everyone should live the life they were meant to live – and make the effort to actually figure out what that is and how to do it, and get out there and do it! I have lived my life with few regrets and lots of great adventures and stories and I’m thrilled about all of it. I have loved and lost, and found a greater love than I ever thought possible (and it’s just the beginning).

Don’t settle for less, don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself or wondering how to get things done. Go do them!

Find people who inspire you and then inspire others.

The best things will come to you when you are living life on your own terms, not when you sit around waiting for things to happen to you.

Go travel. live abroad. take a class. learn something new. do something that terrifies you (it’s probably not as bad as you think).

The only things I regret in my life are not having studied abroad in college (though I think I’ve since more than made up for it!) and not pushing myself to really see what I could do with my business. [and hey, I’m really lucky, I’m not actually going to die in 15 minutes, so there’s still time to fix this one!]

I would have liked to take better care of myself, you only get one body… though if I’m dying right now, it got me as far as I needed to go, I guess.

And that’s the thing—you just never know!

A guy I know from high school died in a totally freak accident last week—how did he spend his last minutes before the accident? Was he happy, sad, pissed off, worried, relaxed? It’s hard to be in good spirits all the time, but at the end I’d want to look back and see that my last minutes were joyful—and therefore, that I’m always living my life in a joyful way. Not worried about what needs to be done, or what someone thinks about me, or what I should have done in the past, or pissed off at someone. Living in the moment, happy and joyful and appreciative of this amazing world we live in, of the incredible people I know, the fantastic journey I’m on through life.

So what else… I have five minutes left to live, don’t I have anything else to say? I would stop writing, actually, and call all my nearest and dearest and tell them I love them. And I would leave this note as a message to the world, to get out there, to LIVE, to LOVE, to make a difference. To be joyful and at peace—because you never know which 15 minutes will be your last.

I just want people to get out there and do what they’re meant to do in the world, to spread the love and happiness and make good things happen for everyone. Keep people fed and clothed and the world going round. I need to do more of this myself, too. What if my 15 minutes is up and I haven’t made a difference? But I think I already have made a difference. I’m leading by example and showing other people that it can be done. You can live the life you want, you can travel and have awesome adventures, absolutely. There’s nothing stopping you but yourself. Those physical obstacles you think you need to overcome? They’re just obstacles. The real barriers are in your head, and until you break them down there will be no moving forward. Recognize your fear of change, your fear of failure (or success), leave it behind and take action.

OK, just a few minutes left, I would call everyone and say goodbye. But damn am I happy it’s not really over!

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