About 13 years ago I found a small lump in my neck which I decided to ignore in the hope it would go away. When after seven weeks there was no improvement, I bravely took myself to the doctor who told me that the lump was in my lymph nodes.
Now if you know anything about your lymphatic system you will understand the instant fear that came to mind. My first thought was that I had a cancerous lump and that this would likely spread throughout my body and kill me. I had heard stories of people who had no symptoms for years only to discover that in fact they were dying. Whilst the doctor didn’t give me any reason to be afraid he also took the symptoms very seriously sending me immediately to have a biopsy.
When the tests came back as inconclusive, I was booked in to have surgery to remove the lump. At this time in my life, I had never had surgery and the thought of being put under the knife terrified me. So much so that I asked myself a very important and ultimately life changing question.
If I had three months to live – how would I want to spend it?
That simple question, much as I didn’t want to face my own mortality, changed my life forever. The answers which came back gave me the courage to make decisions in my life that although in the short term caused upheaval and emotional pain, I knew without a doubt were the right choices for me.
Before I went into hospital I wrote letters to each of my teenage children. There were things I wanted them to know, things I wanted them to remember should I not survive the surgery. As I look back now it feels somewhat overdramatic but at the time I felt strongly that it was important for me to write my feelings down. The clarity I had in those few days, the absolute knowledge that I needed to make changes was unbelievably powerful.
It was a surefire way to find out what my true priorities were. It was like the zooming of a microscope. All the stuff I thought was important disappeared completely as my focus turned to the people I loved, how short my time with them was and how I wanted to spend as many precious moments as I could with them before I went. It reminded me of the things I always wanted to do but had never gotten around to. The experiences I planned to have someday when … it showed me that now is all I have.
Fortunately for me, the results of the tests on the marble sized lump in my neck came back clear of cancer and I suffered no side effects from the surgery.
Have you ever asked yourself this question?
If I had three months to live … how would I want to spend it?
If you are honest with yourself, you may be surprised at what you discover. You may be shocked to realise that you are spending most of your time doing things you hate. Wasting your time with people who don’t add to your life. It may seem selfish but when you realise how little time there is … selfish is exactly what you need to be.
So if the answers to that very pertinent question cause you to see with the clarity of a microscope, allow you to know without a shadow of a doubt what is important, what will you do about it?
I’m not suggesting you should fulfil a lifetime of desires but I am asking you to identify what is important to you and live your life in alignment with your highest values. Be with those you love, find joy in every moment, bring happiness to others, get out into nature and explore, learn something new, spend time alone. Don’t waste one more second concerning yourself with your past. Get to know yourself at the deepest level and follow your heart.
What are you waiting for? There will never be a more perfect moment than right now. Go ahead. Ask the question …. x