Tuesday, October 8, 2013

This could be the last time

Tikker is a digital watch that counts down the minutes to your predicted death, based on your answers to a personal health history questionnaire.  Each Tikker watch comes with a booklet called "About Time," which guides users in calculating their lifespan, Mashable reports.

I'm curious to know how they account for the proverbial bus that hits you after you walk out of the doctor's office with a clean bill of health. Or any other accident. Life -- and death -- simply is not that predictable.

Noah Levine talks about saying good-bye to one of his teachers after having lunch. "I'd like to say, 'See you soon,'" he says the teacher told him, "but it might be never again."

This wasn't a subtle way of saying he'd contracted a fatal disease. It was a teachable moment, a recognition of impermanence. We never know, when we say good-bye to someone, what will happen before -- or if -- we see them again. Children grow up, kittens become cats, hair gets grey. Things change.

Everything is impermanent. This ephemeral existence is not to be wasted. Everyone who is born will die. My death is certain, the exact time is unknown. Knowing this, what is most important?
What's important is not to leave things undone. Don't hold onto resentments, don't hold off on a smile or a hug.

 In recent years, there's been some point in every visit with my mother where she sighs and says, "This could be the last time ..." And I reply, "Yes, it could. I might walk out of here and get run over by a bus. You might live for another 20 or 30 years. You don't know."

Would you want to? Would you feel more or less anxious if you knew exactly how many more nights you had to get some sleep? Would it enhance or detract from your ability to sleep? Would it help you to enjoy the present or project your anxiety into the future?

Tikker's creators say their goal is to help people get more out of life by telling them how much more life they have to live.

"I think we can have a better life, and make better choices, if we are more aware of our upcoming expiration. It gives us perspective — the little stuff suddenly doesn't seem so important anymore. That's why I see Tikker as a happiness watch," Fredrik Colting, Tikker's creator, told Mashable in an email.
The Buddha told his followers that 2,500 years ago -- but he didn't say he could tell them when the end would be. My death is certain. The exact time is unknown.

Knowing that, knowing that you're not guaranteed another chance to sit down with someone, can you see how precious they are to you now and treat them as the rare and wonderful being that they are so that you never have to wish that they knew how you felt? What would you say if you knew it was your last meeting -- would you pick at the details or let the small stuff slide?

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, as Bob Dylan famously said, and you don't need a watch to tell you that your time will come.

The poet Mary Oliver asks:

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Do it now.

No comments:

Post a Comment