on life, ambitions, and dreams

15 Minutes to Live

Real Joy, Todd Baker

This post is part of the #Trust30 Challenge, a 30-day writing initiate inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. To find out more about this challenge, read why I am participating or details about the pledge.

Prompt: Gwen Bell – 15 Minutes to Live

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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.

(Author: Gwen Bell)

I did not write yesterday’s prompt because I have been stuck on the idea that I have only 15 minutes to live. And if I truly only had 15 minutes to live, I sure as hell wouldn’t spend it at a computer writing. (Or would I?) But I don’t think that’s the point of this prompt. The point of this prompt is for me to lay out all of the baggage that has been preventing me from “doing” what I want to be doing in my life because I’m faced with what might be the end.

The end. That’s why I can’t get this prompt out of my head, because I have never rationalized with my own death, written my own obituary, and thought about how I want to be remembered.

I have flirted with the idea that the world will end in December of 2012, so let’s live in the now, but that’s all it is, a flirtation. My husband has more experience in responding to this prompt than I do. He experienced something very close to him that made him realize his own mortality and it’s something that inspires him to consistently remind me to “live in the now” and “enjoy the journey as we’re on it.”

Because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Because we don’t know what will happen today.

I firmly believe that my future as I am directing it right at this very moment will outline a path that I will follow and will be true to myself as I am right now. But – because I am writing this blog post in this very instant and taking a break from the endless to-do’s that my time should really be focused on, I may have changed that path. And if I decide to get a coffee this afternoon instead of powering through my urge for a siesta, it may all change as well.

In these next few minutes as I write how I want to live, I would, again, not be behind a computer; I would be living. But what does “living” mean?

To me, it means to love and be loved. To be surrounded by people who I can genuinely be myself with. People who I can share ideas openly with and embrace their encouragement and their criticism. It’s living by interacting; by embracing; by growing and changing. It means listening to that little voice inside my gut that says, “You need to do this.”

That little voice is so quiet that I sometimes miss what she has to say. There are so many voices that speak to me, to us, and pull us in so many directions that we sometimes forget who we are. Think about your responsibilities and commitments you make to your boss, your partner, your family, your children, your friends, and even to strangers — how many of those things are those that you sign up for and commit to and actually want to do them?

As the clock runs out, I know what I have to do — to live, I need to make sure that the voice inside my body that speaks the most brutal truth as it is to me is heard by me as that will dictate my actions and what it means to live. For me.

If you had 15 minutes to live, how would you write your life right now and live?

(With 2 minutes to spare!)

Photo credit: Todd Baker << technowannabe


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