Recently I finished reading a very thought-provoking book that had quite an impact on me, in the sense that it left me with a couple of terribly difficult questions in mind: What if you knew for sure that you had 30 more days to live? What would you do? Have you ever seriously thought of a bucket list?
The book, called Final Notice by Van Fleisher, is actually a very entertaining novel to read, despite its rather serious topic; it follows the reactions of people from different walks of life that get the final notice through an experimental smartwatch that analyzed the chemistry of the blood with great accuracy. Some people chose to spend their remaining time with loved ones, others put their affairs in order and some choose to do horrible things as they know there will be no consequences. If you like political thrillers (the novel also tackles the situation of guns that are too easy to acquire in America) with a somewhat Sci-fi premise, then I warmly recommend Final Notice.
While reading those people’s reactions in the book, naturally it made me think about how I would react in such a situation. What would I do with just 10 days left? Would I tell people around me? The truth is that, even if you assume that you know yourself very well, faced with something so terminal like this, your reactions might completely take you by surprise. So, I found it rather difficult to say what I would do with my 30 days but after some thought, I came up with a list, a kind of a bucket list if you like.
- Fear and the feeling that my whole stomach has collapsed. I think this would be a normal first reaction. Then, I would slowly start breathing and think. Think about my next step.
- Initially, I would not tell the people around me. It’s just my opinion that it would be a selfish thing to put them through something like this. There’s pain ahead for them anyway so why taint the few days left together. Possibly, later on, as the due date approaches, I would gently prepare them.
- I’m quite a law-abiding person so I wouldn’t do anything illegal. However, I would take the biggest bank loan without a guarantor that I can. Also, I would get the maximum amount of credit cards possible *muhaha!*. Money does make things easier.
- I would make things right with certain people and talk to those to whom I haven’t talked to in a while because, well…, life got in the way.
- What I know for certain is that I would want to spend those days in the company of my closest people going places and building memories. After all, this is what they’ll have after I’m gone: memories.
- Skydiving! Yep, I would like to do that. I heard that it’s a unique feeling of freedom while the adrenaline floods your body.
- Visit a Tibetan monastery. I would travel as little as possible because I feel that I would be wasting valuable time sitting on a plane. However, the only travelling I would do is to a Tibetan monastery. Namely to the Taktsang Monastery which is absolutely breathtaking. Perched up on the edge of a cliff, 3120 meters above the sea level, is it the unofficial symbol of Bhutan.
- And since I’m in Bhutan, I would love to spend a little time at an elephant sanctuary. There is something special about these giants.
- I would take some time and record a bunch of short videos for my boy. One video for each birthday until he’s 20, then one video for every 5 years. It’s not an original idea, I know. I’ve seen it in several movies and I think it’s an emotional way of leaving a long term memento. I would also make a few videos for my husband, brother and several close friends.
- Host a TED talk.
Most people have a bucket list, which is esentially a number of experiences that the person would like to achieve before they… ‘hit the bucket’. Some manage to tick all off the list, others just a few and some people none. So that got me thinking. In which category would I like to be? Naturally , in the category of people that succeed in experiencing every item on their bucket list. But I am waiting for something in order to get all the things on that list done. I am waiting to save more money. This is definitely not the right time for this. I am so busy with work that I could not possibly do it now. It’s too cold, it’s too hot, the baby is too young, I need to buy a house first, so on and so forth.
We all procrastinate on the things that we want to do. The things that would bring us joy because, it seems, there are always more important or pressing things to do. And time passes by. Years turn into decades and we keep finding excuses until our journey here is done. The majority of us usually don’t get a warning, we don’t get the opportunity to put our affairs in order or do the things that we’ve always wanted to do. What we don’t understand is that time waits for nobody.
Looking at my bucket list, I started wondering what kept me from reaching out to some people that I want to reconnect with. Or skydiving…there are a few skydiving centres not far away. We go on vacation every year; so why not visit a tibetan monastery next year? So, I’ve made up my mind not to wait for a final notice (that might never come) and start doing the the things that I want one at a time.
What would you do if you got the final notice? Do you have a bucket list? Do you tend to procrastinate on the things that you’d like to do?