To value more your own life, many recommend keeping a gratitude journal. They say (and I corroborate), that it gives very good results as far as its objective is, to acquire the habit of being a more grateful person. Many experts in the field of psychology and psychiatry praise this practice for its ability to increase our sense of fulfillment and happiness. Through my experimentation with it, I found an unexpected treasure in my path.
I realized that the things I was grateful for had a message in common. Using that knowledge I unconsciously began to describe how I would like the last day of my life to be. So I had the opportunity to fantasize about it, to anticipate it. Why do I have to wait for those last moments to acquire the ability to consciously squeeze everything out, if I can do it now? As ironic as it may seem, rambling about my own death has brought more presence, balance and joy to my days. I could simply define it as an improvement in my ability to appreciate the moments and their details.
IDENTIFY THE PILLARS OF YOUR LIFE
By playing with this gratitude journal, I have been able to discover four great pillars in my life. Those that go beyond my personality labels, attachments and ego revelations. They are the ones with which I experience the moments closest to full happiness. These are: the connection with nature, love for myself and others, my ability to create and my contribution to the world. Given a choice, I would like my last day (and all of them) to be made up of them.
I believe that it is a basic need of every human being to feel that their existence has had value and meaning. Therefore, it is understandable that in those moments when we approach to face our mortality, we start to question deeper issues. Suddenly, we are filled with questions and answers that we have been avoiding all our lives. Some people prefer more meditative and intimate moments. Others choose to fill the remaining time with postponed experiences or dreams. And who can judge any choice, when we all share the same fear of death.
START MAKING PEACE WITH YOURSELF
If I had enough courage, the last day of my life would be marked by quality moments with myself. As I so often advise my loved ones, I would treat myself as if I were one of them. And I would love myself, I would love myself like never before. I would embrace myself with strength to finally dispel those human fears that have made my life so difficult. She would congratulate me on all that I have achieved, she would tell me that I am proud of myself and that I have done very well, the best I could. She would tell me things that I have always looked for in the voices of others, but that she really wanted them to come from me. He would take me by the hand and laugh at my journey as I watched him by my side, with the humor of my stumbling and the joy of my triumphs. I would feel tenderness and compassion for the mere fact of wanting to be a better human being. He would forgive me for all that I could not yet forgive myself and would wish me a good journey.
Making peace with oneself is very important, don’t you think? Who would want to leave this world carrying shame for what happened, for what was lived. Surely this is the hardest part for all of us, to hold hands without judging ourselves for those moments when we had fallen, and laugh, laugh a lot for all that we had suffered and for how little it was deserved. To realize in amazement the simplicity of the rules of this game called life.
REMEMBER YOUR CHILDHOOD MESSAGES
Ironically, it is in our last moments that we bring back childhood. On that day its presence cannot be missed. Many people point to it as one of the best places to find the direction of their lives. It is fascinating how much wisdom is gathered from those first steps into the world. So there we are. Wondering how much we have been faithful to those dreams and how many of us have strayed from the path. Whatever the answer, our conscience is clear. It is not in vain that it is still the last day of your life.
In the evolution of that innocent world, our loved ones made a great impression. Those who tucked us in and pushed us, those who always wanted the best for us from the heart. Holding on to those moments is good, nostalgia is powerful. It teaches us the value of time. That which is eternally present. The one that you feel does not pass, that does not end. Although it is usually perspective and distance that help us perceive this unreachable facet of time, it is never too late to celebrate what we have experienced.
LOVE YOUR LOVED ONES CONSCIOUSLY
Sooner or later I will say goodbye to my loved ones, although I recognize myself as more of a “see you soon” kind of guy. But taking refuge in the hope of a possible future reunion will not easily evaporate my fear of loss and loneliness. Tears will come and of course forgiveness. Forgiveness for unnecessary suffering, forgiveness for lack of love and courage. But I will also receive thanks, thanks for all that I have shared and learned, for feeling enormously fortunate to have lived by your side. This is a good moment to tell you how much I have loved you and how much your presence has meant to me. This is my moment to tell you everything that I would have liked you to tell me in order to live with meaning. Those letters that I so often imagined but never wrote, now is the best time to write them. And those looks full of feeling, those tears, those smiles, kisses, hugs and caresses… gold in any human culture, the true and authentic wealth. Anyone who wants to can now choose to feel immensely rich.
FIND YOUR WAY TO CREATE AND CONTRIBUTE
I have spent much of the last day of my life in my love for myself and others. But what about the other three pillars? I still have time. In the face of that drum roll I would head for a place that, for some reason, would be important to me. It’s my turn to create, to contribute and to reunite with nature. And why not merge them? After all, my creative peaks are discovered when I am most connected to her.
Creation is beautiful. We are all artists. In front of that canvas, that score, that blank sheet of paper, that dance floor, we decide with what amalgam of colors, melodies, phrases or steps we are going to fill our lives. The world would be much more beautiful if people decided to create more from the heart, since the influence of our actions goes beyond what we can be aware of. Isn’t the power of creation wonderful? Such a powerful tool, called imagination, to form a better present and future. Since I am comfortable with writing, I would turn to it to help me make my last words. Under the shadow, the sun, the wind, the rain of that day; I would look for the best way to say goodbye and to thank for everything I had experienced. Nature, like that faithful travel companion that has always been for me, would once again be by my side. We would prolong our meeting until the last moment, when my “see you soon” would resound with such force that it would even allow me to glorify the eternity contained in the last day of my life.