When I was younger (and the internet was this brand new, fascinating wild west of adventure), my friend showed me a website called deathclock.com. You enter your gender, your BMI and date of birth and it would tell you the date of your death, complete with an unnerving countdown. You could see the seconds running down.
You can still visit that website today, still sporting the (now rather dated) original layout it had back in 2005. It’s not accurate by any means, but I visited it again recently.
Seeing the remaining time I have left, 17 years later, resonates in a more haunting way than before.
Having now entered my 30s and hitting that point in life where I am questioning a lot (my career choices, relationship errors etc), seeing my remaining time counting down before my very eyes is almost like a call to action. It made me realise how little time we really have. Even if I had 10, 20 years more than this website claims, time is still ticking away every second. Every time you put off doing something could well be your last chance. What if my time is shorter than it says?
What if I push something back to tomorrow, but something happens to me? What if I died next week? Would I be happy with where my life was going?
I don’t see death as something to fear but, rather, an opportunity. It reminds us that we are not infinite entities as we convince ourselves to be. There is a reason people who suffer from a near-death experience feel like they have a new lease on life.
Coming face to face with your own mortality reminds you not to take anything for granted, but you don’t need to experience this yourself to realise it right now, at this very moment.
The Roman Philosopher Seneca summed it up perfectly:
It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.
Death shouldn’t scare you. It is something that comes for everybody, eventually. The best time to act is now; there is no guarantee that tomorrow will even exist.
We all have the time to do something great. How are you spending the time that you have?
Don’t squander it. Extraordinary happens today, not tomorrow.
Article image: Philippe de Champaigne, Still Life With a Skull, 1669