365 days to seize

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Thursday, January 2, 2014


I BLAME it on Dead Poet’s Society; carpe diem became my motto in college. All right, I admit it was partly because I thought knowing at least two Latin words would make me seem learned. Then I entered the world of law, and Latin inevitably lost its luster. But when I hear lawyers engage in Latin maxims showdowns, I sometimes couldn’t resist joining the fray with a lone entry that always ends the one-upmanship: I-ce cre-am for sa-le he-re. They realize too late I only said “Ice cream for sale here.” But I’m digressing.

How do we seize the day, really?

Do we drop everything to finally take that trip around the world? Or empty the bank account to buy the red Ferrari? But what if we don’t even have a bank account to empty?

More often than not, we actually get to live for another day and another. How do we live each 365 days as if it were our last? How do we make a day less ordinary when all we have for the day is a day at the office?

Steve Job said he looks in the mirror every morning and asks himself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" When his answers have been "no" for too many days in a row, he knows he needs to change something.

For Og Mandino, of the Greatest-Salesman-of-the-World fame, it means not wasting a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, defeats, and heartaches. Forgetting yesterday includes not worrying about tomorrow. He said we shouldn’t concern ourselves over events, which we might not even witness, nor torment ourselves with problems that may never come to pass.

He also said he will avoid with fury the killers of time -- such strong words! And he was referring to a favorite sin: “Procrastination I will destroy with action… The duties of today I shall fulfill today.” Ouch.

While searching for answers to these existential questions -- no, I didn’t walk the dessert for 30 days, I just surfed the net – I encountered Time Management Ninja, and he said that living today as if it were your last is not about being reckless (Read: forget the red Ferrari).

It’s about making each day matter.

He listed eight ways to live today as if it were your last, and these are my top three:

Give 100 percent in everything that you do. I always find that even the most mundane of tasks, like cleaning my bathroom, gives me satisfaction when I give it my all.

Tell the people you care about what they mean to you. In TED conversations, one member asked: What would you do if this were your last day? 12 out of the 25 who responded said they would spend the day with their loved ones and tell them how much they mean to them. So why do we wait for the last day?

Get out there and do something -- anything! Like the day I went out for a bike. It started ordinarily enough then it rained. I didn’t stop because I loved getting soaked in the rain, ever since I was a kid. Until I realized I was making a spectacle of myself biking with my wet clothes sticking to me. I had to go home.

But when I reached our gate, I saw the neighborhood kids doing what my childhood friends and I used to do a century ago: showering under the neighbor’s rainspout. I just had to join them. Then I took my nieces from the house to join us. It was their first to be out in the rain, and they jumped up and down with so much glee -- priceless!

Here’s to 365 days to seize!

(Jennifer L. Ramos is an environmental lawyer. She lived this day as if it were her last because she finally finished this article, which she started writing in her head in 2011.)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 03, 2014.

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