question du jour – what if…

What if you approached every person you encountered during the course of each day as though it would be the last time you see that person? Would it change your interaction with the person? Would it change what you did or said? In what way?



4 thoughts on “question du jour – what if…

  1. That’s been a little bit “too much truth” in this lately. Recently, people that I know, or friends of friends, have died or had near-death accidents. Some passed quite suddenly.
    I don’t choose to be morose and dwell on the inevitability of death. Instead, I’ve been choosing to focusing on living more fully.
    I’ve already been doing as you suggest, and it’s making quite a difference. More and more often, as I part ways with people, I acknowledge to myself that this might be the last time, either because they may pass or it might be me.
    This little practice has helped me to become a little more genuine, a little more compassionate, and a little more expressive of my loving-kindness.
    Thanks for your reminder and inspiration.

    • I’m sorry to hear of your losses, Vincent. I haven’t had recent losses, but experienced losses early on (my father and grandmother died within six months of each other when I was sixteen) and then later (AIDS, suicide).

      I’ve been looking through the lens of “the last time” with my mother for some years now. I watch her across the table, and I remind myself that it could be the last time. However, it’s only recently that I’ve widened this viewpoint to include others and even myself. Like you, I don’t feel morbid about death…I think we go on after we let go of the body, so the only real loss is not having the person there in the physical. But I do find myself thinking a lot these days… What have I accomplished? What will I leave behind? Have I made the world a better place? Have I had a positive impact? Is what I’m doing—right here, right now, in this moment—important? Is this the best use of the gifts I came into this life with?

      I learned in my twenties just how much a kind word or gesture can mean to someone, and I’ve become even more conscious with every passing year of the potential in every contact with others for there to be a positive, meaningful impact. The thought that an interaction with someone might be the last, or the only (whether because the person dies or because they just move to the other side of the world), has heightened my awareness even further.

      By the way, what sparked my questions this morning was a Rilke quote/poem I came across in Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening this morning:

      Once for each thing. Just once, no more
      And we, too, just once. And never again.
      But to have been this once: to have been
      at one with the earth,
      seems beyond undoing.
      ~Rainer Maria Rilke

  2. Dear Viki,
    Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response. I’m sorry to hear of your losses, too. Although there’s some sayings about time healing all wounds, some seem to take a bit longer than others.
    I wonder about my impact, too. It seems so hard to actually know what impact any of us has. I’ve been delighted to hear back from long-time friends about something I did or said which made a difference to them. I’ve been doing a bit of that, too, as I’ve reconnected with people I knew years ago.
    I really enjoy the words of Rilke you shared. I can see how they inspired you. Thanks for responding to that and writing your post.

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