Only one Day to Live

You wake up in the morning and start your daily routine. This could include exercise, reading, meditation, or just a good stiff cup of coffee. We are all creatures of habit; our routines most likely look very familiar from day to day. What would a morning look like if you knew it was your last one? I am not attempting to be morbid but to ask a question each one of us faces daily whether we realize it or not. I will be discussing a hypothetical scenario we will eventually face, but few of us care to consider. I have not lived out this scenario and almost anyone that has is now gone. My blog is too Listen.Think.Act. I hope this post will inspire us to live the life we have in front of us with passion.


Can we really know what we would do if we only had one day to live? This is going way out on a “let’s suppose” branch but I will try to set some conditions. Most of us do not believe this will apply to us anytime soon. This increases the odds of us not taking the question seriously. So, let’s be a little macabre and say it is true. What would your list for the last 24 hours include? Would you bring out your short bucket list for the remaining day? Would you try to make amends with people you are estranged with from the present and past? Would you scramble to make sure all your affairs are financially and legally in order? If you think time management is chaotic on a daily basis, this is time management on steroids. Maybe some of us would look for peace, the kind of peace that might have elusive up to this point in our life. Maybe this will give us a better feel for a 24-hour day.  Many great things can happen in one day, let’s examine a couple of them further.


I want you to think of a great day in your life. It could be the day you were married. It could be the birth of a child. It could be a vacation that was simply magical. It is amazing the number of memories that can be generated in a 24-hour period. Why wait to be told you are not going to live long to realize the things of importance? The point is to live your life one day at a time. If you could do something amazing in the next 24 hours, what would you do? The next question is why aren’t you doing it? Most of life is lived doing redundant activities. We all sleep a certain number of hours each day. We eat meals, we brush our teeth. Many of us do laundry, wash dishes, and the list can go on for a long while. Yet, there is this unique opportunity each day to take the mundane and make it special. It is not the event, but what we bring to the event that really matters. If we could slow down and not treat everything like an item on our to-do lists, the events could seem less ordinary. If we could learn to laugh more, be less critical and really except people as they are, things would definitely change. I hope you can imagine one of these 24-hour periods and try to recapture that feeling. Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is better than knowledge”. If you are not enjoying your days, maybe you need a fresh shot of imagination, but do it today, do it in this 24-hour period.


Dying does not require a skill, an instruction manual or even guidance from another human being. Just as being born was beyond our thoughts and control, death will be the same. The skill is in living, not just breathing and working and eating, but living. Larry Norman a music artist from the 1970’s said it this way “To live is a privilege, to love is such an art”. Regardless of the type of life, you have lived up to this point, you can start over again. This is how Mahatma Gandhi stated this point: “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”  Take tomorrow, and imagine that it is your last day on earth. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Now take this knowledge and build on it each day.  Live life one small bite at a time. I once heard the following analogy about time and thought it was fitting.

“If you want to know the value of one year, just ask a student who failed a course.

If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet.

If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the bus.

If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just escaped death in a car accident.

And if you want to know the value of one-hundredth of a second, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics.”

So, it appears life is lived in very small segments. What will you do with the next 24 hours?


Author: duanew2

I am a retired Marine that believes in the power of conversation and learning. I hope this site allows all of us to do both.

3 thoughts on “Only one Day to Live”

  1. I think this is the best you’ve written!!
    It is concise and yet poignant! I love your illustration and Ghandis quotation.
    Well done brother👏

  2. This is so thought provoking, so many things come to mind of what I would do, and knowing I should just do them. Excellent article.

  3. This has been your best writing on this blog to date, in my opinion.

    I began trying to “Live One Day At A Time” several years ago. So most days I look on as my last. The most important thing I have done is make amends with my past hurts, habits, and hangups with myself and other folks in my life.

    I believe if I had only another 24 hours to live I would dedicate it to my Highest Higher Power, LOVE for I do have faith there is something beyond this physical life.

    Thanks Duane! Keep on writing.

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