“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 www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com. 2012.