At the end of the movie Jack, the central character, played by Robin Williams, gave a very sentimental speech in which he said: ''Please don’t worry so much, because in the end, none of us have very long on this earth. Life is fleeting…..’
I will be dead soon. Here's what I know
He was right, of course. While the ''three score years and 10'' quoted in the literary classics has become ''four score years and three to five’, life is still fleeting.
How often have we heard people ask where the time has gone, or lamented life going by faster and faster as they age?
But back to that speech. A little later in it, Jack implored his audience to ''make your life spectacular, I know I did!''
This is advice we have also heard many times. I recall a verse from Shakespeare’s Henry V, which went: ''In my youth I doth waste time, now time, in its infinite wisdom, doth waste me''.
Shakespeare's words should be a warning to us all.
My mother died suddenly at 78 from an aneurysm.
She woke at 5am with a headache and was dead before she had time to eat breakfast. I cannot recall the exact circumstance, but I do know that her father died in a similar way. Despite these genetic omens, I intend to die in my rocking chair on the front veranda of my farm.
I already have the rocking chair.
Don’t get me wrong. While I have no fear of, or concerns about death, I am booked up solidly for at least the next 20 years and have no plans to kick off anytime soon. In the meantime, I am using the chair as a comfortable place to read and listen to music while soaking up some sun.
But the time will come when I sit in that chair for the last time. Leading up to that day, I will no doubt spend many hours reflecting on a fleeting life drawing to a close.
Many people probably reflect on their lives at this time, asking what they achieved, if they did all they could for the people and causes they cared about, and what they might have done differently.
These are all interesting questions and I will no doubt ask them.
But they are also entirely academic. Regardless of the answers, nothing can be changed. You can’t change the past and even if you could, the clock is ticking. Time is running out.
Further, I figure that If I have done my best in terms of living according to my values, these questions will be largely superfluous.
It seems to me, the only reasonable question at this time relates to whether there is anything still left to do. How can I best use the moments I have left?
While I have no evidence one way or the other, I am more than comfortable with the fact that after I die, I will be burned and that will be it. No afterlife for me. If I have done all that I should in this life, there should be no need for an afterlife.
I suspect that in those last days, hours, minutes and seconds, I will understand that there are only two things left to do, tell those who are still upright and dear to me that I love them, and most importantly, thank them for their role in making my life all that it could be.
Is there anything more important than saying thankyou?
My mother never got the opportunity and I never got the chance to say thankyou to her.
At the end of his speech in the movie Jack, Williams' character is ageing at an inordinate speed (due to a rare disease) and he is now very old, while his mother is still only in her 30s. He concludes by looking directly at her and saying: ''I made it mum, I’m a grown up, thankyou!''
I am not sure what this post says about me. It was harder than I thought to write but rewarding to finish, as writing so often is.
I hope it inspires someone else, perhaps you, to tell your story.