An Hour to Live…

“The key to a good life is this: If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.” ~Richard Carlson

Recently I ‘stumbled’ across a book titled “If You Had an Hour to Live” written by Richard and Kristine Carlson. It’s a beautifully written book about life, love and making the most of every moment. Dr. Richard Carlson was the bestselling author of the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series of books who died suddenly in 2006. His wife, Kristine, also an author, continues her husband’s legacy, as well as tells her own story about overcoming the sudden loss of her husband.

While reading “If You Had an Hour to Live” I obviously was left with the question, if I only had an hour to live, what would I do with that time? While I don’t want to spoil the book should you decide to read it — it may leave you thinking about the priorities in your life and in what order you place them. It’s a short, easy to read book; however, at the same time, it’s the type of book you think about for days. After all, Dr. Carlson wrote the first half of the book years before he died as an anniversary present to his wife. To me, what a remarkable gift from one person to another!

If I knew I had one hour left to live…I could tell you what I would not do. With that hour I would not spend time on Facebook, check email, or be constantly connected to my Smartphone. And, I can promise you I would not be looking over my financial portfolio, online bank statements or life insurance papers. I wouldn’t be concerned with my calendar or ALL the doctor’s appointments I have on a weekly basis. And, while I would miss him, I would probably skip my physical therapy appointment. I also wouldn’t be counting carbs or concerned about my next endocrinologist appointment and if my blood work is showing continued improvements. And, to be completely honest (and I hope you are sitting down for this one), Dr. Liar would not even enter my thought process (are you as surprised at that statement as I am?)

One of many, many sentences in the book that stood out to me was ‘we always teach best what we most need to learn.’ I have been writing about being betrayed by Dr. Liar for quite some time and while I have yet to discover how to forgive and forget, the very fact I am able to write about him is therapeutic. And, yes, I guess my writing about him is one way to get past this huge hurt in my life. And, as Dr. Carlson, points out, it must be what I most need to learn — even eight years later. However, during my weekly appointments, the shrink and I have discussed how I may never get past this huge hurdle due to overwhelming impact. But, at the same time, he assures me I am going to be ok.

I remember reading in one of Dr. Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff books a statement about life being unfair, so I combed through the books I have until I found the sentence, which I had highlighted some 14 years earlier. “One of the mistakes many of us make is that we feel sorry for ourselves, or for others, thinking that life should be fair, or that someday it will be. It’s not and it won’t. When we make this mistake we tend to spend a lot of time wallowing and/or complaining about what’s wrong with life. It’s not fair, we complain, not realizing that, perhaps, it was never intended to be.” Little did I know in 1998 those sentences would still speak to me in 2012.

Another lesson learned by Dr. Carlson during his lifetime and passed on to those who read his work involves chasing happiness. He states in his book: “If we would just slow down, happiness would catch up to us.” I certainly have found this to be true especially during these past few years. I have found myself slowing down and enjoying the little things in life — those moments that don’t cost anything and often go by in a blink. For example ~ the way my husband looks at me from across the room and gives a little wink or a smile, how blue my daughter’s eyes really are, the birds on our feeders outside, our two dogs sleeping so contentedly, flowers blooming, watching the sun set, listening to nature, or laughing so hard it makes my side hurt or I almost cry. The small simple pleasures that are missed because the television or the computer is always on or because we get so caught up in the muck of our daily lives. I know I was there — in the middle of the rat race — and I have to admit I don’t miss it.  What I should have been asking myself was I working to live or living to work?

And, while I have told you what I wouldn’t do if I had an hour left to live, what I won’t tell you is what I would do. I think you already know. Benjamin Franklin said “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” And, while I live with pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I have been given the opportunity to reorganize my priorities, or quite simply, to focus on what truly matters in my life. Not many people get to do that in their lifetime. And, if I know in advance I only have one hour to live, I believe I know what I will say and to whom I will say it to. To me, having this foresight is a gift ~ one I feel very honored and blessed to have discovered at this point in my life.

Sources: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff–and it’s all small stuff, Richard Carlson, 1996;  If You Had An Hour to Live, Richard and Kristine Carlson, 2008 (Hallmark edition)

©My Unplanned Life and 2012.


About mswd

I am an individual living with a spinal cord injury. How the injury occurred, how I found out how severe my injury was and how my planned life suddenly became 'unplanned' is included in this blog. Also included is how the injury has tested my family and me. I believe you will discover it has been both a mentally and physically challenging ordeal and I learned a few lessons along the way. While I am still defining my life’s purpose since the injury, I have uncovered those who are injured, live with pain or have other obstacles to navigate are never able to escape. However, come with me as I explore ways to improve my life, learn to live with multiple neurological conditions, educate others and look for the silver lining. I believe with a little willpower, my caring family and God's guidance I will learn to forgive, hopefully forget how I was treated and dismissed by a doctor and uncover life's new purpose. I pray for painfree days and answers to questions that keep swirling through my mind. I also pray for a cure for neurological conditions and for the doctors to treat their patients with respect. Welcome to my journey. I would love to hear about yours!
This entry was posted in Being Thankful, Betrayal, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Dr. Liar, Faith, Finding the joy, Forgiveness, God, Happiness, Joy, Richard Carlson, Spinal Cord Injury and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to An Hour to Live…

  1. Chatter Master says:

    I know what my next book will be!!!!

    • mswd says:

      All of his books are wonderful…so sad he passed away at such a young age. I believe he had so much more he would have taught us. I am reading another one of his books I found in researching his death (which happened just after my injury so I didn’t hear until much later that he had died) so I am sure I will be writing about this one as well! 🙂

      • Chatter Master says:

        I’m looking forward to it. The books, and your feedback on them. Now I have to go read about him! 🙂

  2. Beverly says:

    Beautiful.These are things we all need to think about. I’m sorry you’re in chronic pain. I was hoping things were getting a little better for you, so I checked out your blog again. This might not help when you’re feeling rotten, but I appreciate your fighting the good fight, and wish you well.

    • mswd says:

      Beverly ~ so nice to hear from you again! Thank you for your kind message. While it is a hard thing to admit, living with chronic pain becomes a way of life. In fact, when I refer to my shrink in the blog, he is actually a pain shrink and he is helping me manage my pain. I also am seeing a new specialist in July and could have a few new options. However, I am looking at things with a new perspective and it makes all the difference in the world. 🙂 Please keep in touch! Thank you again!

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