What does it mean to live every day as if it were your last? In the search for meaning and purpose in life should we turn to this cliché and drain our bank accounts on mindless self-fulfillment? Should we tell our friends and family we won’t be with them for much longer? If we were to truly “live every day as if it were our last we would probably end up with no friends, no money, and no real direction. Instead, what if we took that recklessness, that vigor, and channeled it? What might we accomplish if we thought less with our minds and more with our hearts?
This past Christmas break, I drove back to my home in Bentonville, Ark., stopping to visit Mariesa, a friend who lives in Colorado Springs. The plan was to hit the slopes just west of the Vail Pass on an epic day of snowboarding and to stay with Jim, a friend of Mariesa’s. We got to Jim’s early so we could wake up early and make the most of a perfect day. Fresh and glorious powder coated the slope. After what was probably my best half-day of boarding ever, we stopped for lunch before heading back out to the mountain for the rest of a wonderful day of snow sports. Or so we thought.
About 30 minutes into the second half of our day, Jim and I decided to take a scenic detour through a backcountry double-black course. As we weaved through the most beautiful terrain I have ever seen, the veteran skier yelled, Isn’t this just the most wonderful thing ever!” as he pulled away. Three minutes later I came upon a motionless Jim about 150 yards ahead of me beyond the boundary line of a steep boulder-field.
I quickly made my way to him and checked if he was OK. A minute later his body slouched and he began heaving. I fumbled to lose my board and made my way through the waist-high powder toward him. I began performing CPR and continued as a woman came through the clearing to call ski patrol. They arrived after another 30 minutes of CPR. About two hours later Mariesa her brother their father and I sat in the grieving room of the hospital. Jim had been pronounced dead.
Throughout the frantic procession on the mountain Mariesa had been convinced that I was the one who had passed on. Jennifer had called Mariesa first and in her hysterical state had somehow conveyed the wrong message. Mariesa had then called our mutual friend Abbie to share the news. Once everything had been cleared up Abbie told me she would not have been surprised if it had been me. It seems to be a common consensus among those who know me that given the way I live it is a miracle that I am still alive. The truth is I am living on God’s grace. Jim died just as he would have wanted to. He was an active 60-year-old man who spent 70 days a year on the mountain. Jim was passionate about skiing and he pursued his passion with unquenchable spirit until his last day.
I guess I have chosen and choose to live my life like Jim did. Of the few people I have shared the mountainside experience with some have asked if I plan to calm down now. “That could have been you they say; life is precious they say. While both of those things are true, what better way to take advantage of this precious blessing than to push it to its limits,; to squeeze every last precious drop out.
I believe that nothing is more important than living every moment with a true zeal and enthusiasm for life. That means finding something you truly care about and putting in the effort to make it mean something in your life.
After having experienced countless shenanigans, I have no regrets. God has given us only a short time on earth. What better way to thank Him than by living it with unbridled passion for everything we do? Than pushing ourselves farther than we ever thought we could go, and allowing Him to restore us when we feel we cannot make it another step? Than allowing Him to fill us up from within, and then allowing that love and that drive for living to spill out on everyone and everything around us?
What does it mean to live every day as if it were your last? I don’t know exactly. However, I do know that whenever my time does come, I will have left nothing unfinished. I will have capitalized on every single opportunity available, and I will truly know what it means to have lived with no regrets. The importance of that is unparalleled.