TED Conversations

Arkady Grudzinsky

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed.

If this were the last day of your life, how would you spend it?

It just occurred to me today that finishing my most urgent project at work wouldn't be on my to do list. I would love to read some thoughts or stories.

...After reading some responses, it seems that most people would do what they always wanted to do and take care of things that they value most. But why wouldn't we do these things in the first place, regardless of how long we have left? I don't mean it as a rhetorical question - it would be interesting to read some thoughts.

Topics: Values
Share:

Closing Statement from Arkady Grudzinsky

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in this conversation. Lots of interesting thoughts and perspectives.

Perhaps, most notable conclusions:

1. At the end, we focus on what matters most for us, and for most people it's people we love - most people would spend time with family, friends, write letters, etc.

2. It should not matter whether we live the last day of our life or not. Perhaps, we should just do what we do any other day, like having a cup of nice tea, and enjoy the moment.

It's hard to summarize everything that was said here - worth reading.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 30 2013: I think I will carry on doing things I am doing now. I would get up early in the morning and practice martial art for about 1 hours and a half. I would keep at the routine, trying my best feel the fluidity of the move and practice whatever I have not been able to perform yet. For this one last practice, I would try to empty mind, let the strength and the flow envelop and manifest my moves. Of course, I am talking about the ideals, it doesn't mean I would be there even that is the last practice. But I would always try.

    Falling exhausted and tensed after the training, I would have a really good hot-cold alternate shower. Then sharpening my mind up with a good cup of coffee, I would listen to music that I like. While doing that, I would have breakfast with my whole family, smile with them, being relaxed and happy in their presence. After that, in a relaxed and flexible state of mind , I would love to listen to some debates on controversial topic like: How the Universe began? What is the meaning of life? and so forth. I would try to have my own opinion uninfluenced by others on each of this topic. I would spend my time reading a book I like in a cafe with a great view too. If I overhear some interesting discussions, I would try to join them.

    In the afternoon, I would get my soccer team to play for one more time, try to enjoy the connection, the ease in playing and the rhythm of the game. Everyone just needs to do their best and keep the team in their minds.

    In the evening, I would spend my time with my loved ones. Enjoy each other's company. And feel happy and lucky for having someone to share the last day with. :)

    Maybe at some moments, there comes a thought of this is the LAST day, things will be all gone. But I will try let those little moments go and dive in enjoying my last day with all I have.
    • thumb
      Jan 31 2013: If this is how you spend most of your days, you are truly blessed. I'd like to know how you managed to build your life so that you can spend a few hours in the morning doing martial arts, hot/cold showers, and enjoy a breakfast with your family discussing philosophical matters. My mornings start at 6am and the next few hours are spent in a rat race to prepare breakfasts, school lunch boxes, making sure everyone gets to school on time, then spending most of the day at work trying to figure out which of the "urgent" projects are "the most urgent" while realizing that none of them make any difference for humanity. Then going home, taking one of the kids to a music lesson or a practice of some sort, making sure homeworks are done, bags are ready for the next day, dishes are clean, and trash cans are empty, checking the email and calendar for upcoming events like doctor's appointments, school events or other stuff of global importance, and then having my 6 hours of sleep to repeat the cycle.

      I don't feel like I'm doing anything that would matter on my last day. Essentially, this is the reason I posted this question. It is very possible that each of these things seem minor and insignificant, but at the end, after doing them them every day for many years, they do make a huge difference in someone's life. So, perhaps, I'd better keep doing them and avoid useless questions.
      • Feb 1 2013: Dear Arkady,

        The things I mentioned are in the list of things I would always want to do so I would try to structure my life around it. I am still very young, just graduated from college and no big commitment currently, so it allows me to spend time doing things I really really want to do.

        I am working for a Japanese company now, work will pick up soon, I think there will be less spare time. As for list of things I want to do in my last day, I don't think I could do all of them every single day but few things I know I would not trade for are martial art, reading and time with family and friends. They are things I love and treasure so much. I think they are things in my nature.

        Again please keep in mind that what I described to you is just an ideal day, and since it was supposed to be the last day, I include all the things I want there. Real life is vastly different but I think the matter is the quality of your experience, as long as you love your work, you enjoy doing it, you make the most out of each moment, then I think you have spent your time well.
        • thumb
          Feb 1 2013: It may be a good idea to write how we would like to spend our last day early in our life and build our life so that we could do it after ten, twenty, or seventy years.
        • thumb
          Feb 1 2013: Dear Ho Tung Manh and Arkady,
          You both seem to be very insightful, wise young people. It is indeed possible to structure our life around those things that are most important to us at any given time.

          As you say Ho Tung Manh, we may not be able to do everything every single day, and I have found in the life adventure, that my focus goes to different things at different stages. When my kids were little for example, they and my husband were my focus (family), and many other tasks and interests revolved around the family.

          There was a time in my life, I focused on strengthening the body to support a medical condition, which was weakening the body. The kids were getting older and didn't need my total focus as much, I still had other interests, and strengthening the body was a focus.

          Once the body was strengthened to a certain degree, it was a matter of maintaining the strength, the kids were off to college, I was still maintaining a couple businesses and careers, and I focused more on mental/emotional evolution.

          Throughout my life, all of these elements have been very much a part of the life experience, and various elements get priority at different times. And that is how we structure our lives around the things that are important to us.....that is how we mindfully, with awareness "build" our lives:>)

          Any day could be the last, and I was reminded of that fact 23 years ago with a near fatal head injury. I think/feel what is important to the living/dying process, is to know that we are doing the very best we can in any given moment, as we travel through the life adventure. When we get to the end of the line, it feels better NOT to have regrets regarding the life experience:>)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.