When was the last time you seriously thought about your own mortality? For most of us, contemplating our eventual death isn’t the first choice of things to think about. And thanks to advances in medicine and technology, we’re not forced to grapple with it nearly as early—or as often—as those in previous eras.

Yes, dying is something that will happen to all of us someday, but there are more enjoyable things to be thinking about in the meanwhile, right? Depending on our age, we may assume we still have a long way to go. But the unsettling reality is we don’t know how much, or how little, time we have left.

A few weeks ago, I came across the following quote, which was a good reminder of this fact.

I’ve often heard people say things like, “You’ve got your whole life in front of you!” That’s simply not true. We don’t have our whole lives ahead of us. We have our whole lives behind us. What we have in front of us is a mystery that could be over at any moment. 1

Although not always pleasant to consider, remembering the shortness of life can help us better savor and appreciate the time that we do have.

Yes, the entirety of our life is always behind us, but that doesn’t mean it’s finished. Each new day provides yet one more opportunity to keep adding to that story. And the fact that we don’t know how many days we still have ahead of us is a great incentive to make the most of this day called today while we still can.

  1. Steven James, Becoming Real, quoted in “Making the Most of Every Opportunity↩︎