A few years ago, I was hiking up Stone Mountain in North Carolina with a few friends, and I put a hypothetical question out there for the group:
“If you had one day to live, and time and money were not a limiting resource, how would you spend your day?”
For instance, you could you hit Paris for breakfast and one of those tiny coffees they are so fond of, but then be in California for lunch and a surf session, only to finish your day playing pick up basketball with Chris Paul in Beijing. No restrictions. Go. How would you spend it?
It’s a silly question, sure, but so is “Would you rather wear a boloney eyepatch for a year or have sausage links as fingers for a year?” but it’s fun to ask.*
But whereas boloney eyepatches have no relevance to life, this particular hypothetical revealed a lot. Here’s what my last day would look like:
- I’d wake up at 6am, after a quality 8 hours of sleep. I’d have 2 cups of coffee (no less, no more), and read something related to positive psychology or sports.
- I’d wake Kels up, and go on a hike around 7 (she wouldn’t like being woken up that early, but I mean, c’mon, it’s my last day) in Utah because it’s beautiful. I’d sit at the peak for an hour or so, looking out, and appreciating how truly beautiful our world is for the first time since before iPhones.
- I’d make my way down the mountain to meet my siblings for breakfast. I’d tell more jokes than ever. I’d laugh harder, smile bigger, and eat bacon. Lots of bacon.
- Post-breakfast, I’d make videos for everyone in my family. Just short messages saying I love you and thank you. Thank you for all the love, all the support; telling them how much they mean to me. I would share how the most fulfilling times in my life have involved them.
- I’d spend my afternoon shooting hoops with friends, bumping J. Cole jams, visiting Argentina (don’t ask why), working out, and playing pool.
- I’d meet my mom for a steak dinner. I’d meet my dad for a couple brews and stories after.
I’d tell more jokes than ever, give zero fucks about what strangers thought of me, or the giant armpit sweat stains from playing ball in Argentina. I would do nice things for people.. just because it’s nice. I’d let go of expectations and assumptions.
I’d show love, make love. I’d sweat and play. I’d dish out more compliments, voice out less complaints and criticisms, and communicate more honestly and clearly. Plus eat lots of bacon.
There’d be no sad goodbyes, they’d be way too emotionally draining for my last day. There’d be no philosophical questions about the after life. It would be jokes, cocktails, and bacon.
This is a ridiculous question, of course. Time and money are limited resources, but the insight from our answers can provide some clarity about what the hell we’re doing with our time.
Notice the lack of Netflix binges in my day? Notice the amount of laughter? Notice the bacon?
An older man (that waxed me in chess with only three moves) once told me that if you’re not doing what you like, then you’re wasting your time.
This is because the true quality of life is not tied to our accomplishments, or our collection of cars and boats (I know I know, easy for a guy with a Toyota Corolla and no boats to say), but it’s tied to what Winifred Gallagher, author of the book RAPT, calls “low pleasures.”
She writes about how, as people get older they tend to become happier. They tend to stop focusing on hanging out with the Kardashians, putting out a platinum rap album, or having a yacht. The tend to focus on these low pleasures, or simple joys in life.
They focus on the bite of a crisp apple, or how delicious water tastes when you’re thirsty. They lose themselves in a J. Cole verse, or a lunchtime conversation with a friend.
Our memory is not linear. To the brain, the memory of yesterdays tuna casserole is just as distant as when you were six, and grandma cut your PB&J into those nice little squares. I miss those squares, Gram.
So in a sense, you do have only “one day” of life – to your brain, anyway. When it’s all said and done we’ll have a collection of snapshots of how you spent your time here.
It’s easy to forget what we consider truly important because society pushes so much shit onto our face that we swap out what we personally value for societal values:
- Make more money
- Find the job of your dreams
- Make money AND vacation. All at once.
- Buy this! Buy that!
- Spray Axe Body Spray and have women jump at you like flies to dog excrement.
Ask yourself, “If you had one day to live, and time and money were not a limiting resource, how would you spend your day?” And if “at yacht dealership” is your answer, then do your thing and figure out a way to buy that damn boat. But for most of us it will involve the people we love, the things we enjoy doing, and bacon.
Now, consciously spend your time doing that.
*Credit to Jade Teta for the boloney eye patch question. Yes, he seriously asked me that shit.