If I Had Ten Days to Live ...
Shannon's Makes Me Smile Topic asks what I would do with ten days to live.
Day 1: Absorb the shock and start planning. Let's be real folks. The first day you find out about this, you'll spend it second-guessing doctors, reacting defensively, and considering alternatives to prescribed ends (assuming its medical). Near the end of the day, you'll begin planning how you'll spend your remaining time.
Day 2: Spend the day with your children. Pick their absolute funnest place on earth and take them there. Devote the entire day to them, from sun up to sun down. Listen, run, walk, roll around playfully with them. Be their best friend complete and true without thinking a bit about yourself.
Day 3: Spend the day alone with your wife. Talk a long walk somewhere scenic with her, along the beach or along a country road. Walk and talk and kiss and be romantic. Share your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly.
Day 4: Climb a mountain. You know it always gets serious and spiritual when you start climbing high up a mountain. Go alone so you can think and reflect. Climb and climb -- at least several thousand feet, or a few miles. Find a scenic rock and sit down and think. Look at the beautiful vista surrounding you. Soak in the beauty of mother nature. Listen to the silence and the quiet sounds -- of birds, of rustling branches in the trees, of wind.
Day 5: Write your last essay. Sit down and type out your thoughts. Try to make them as clear as possible. Write down a few things you've learned throughout your life. What do you want your posterity to know -- about you, about your life?
Day 6: Clean something out so others won't have to. It's a considerate, selfless act in your last days — to be thinking of others. Will your family want to throw away your relics? Do them a favor: get rid of everything you can (except a few mementos) so that you'll only be a memory.
Day 7: Take pictures. Take pictures of yourself with your family. Maybe go some place special and take at least 100 to 150 digital pictures, pictures alone with each child, together, of you kissing your wife, doing handstands, giving camel rides.
Day 8: Read your favorite book of scripture and pray. It's time to prepare. Start getting things in order. Get in tune and just reflect on the spiritual side of things.
Day 9: You don't have time to travel, but haven't you always wanted to do something crazy? I've always wanted to rent a hang-glider and jump off a cliff and glide through an open valley. If you can do it, now is the time.
Day 10: Spend the day with your entire family and friends. Make short phone calls to remote family members. Spend the day in hugs and tears. Get a haircut, take a bath. Dress your finest. Near the end of the day, lay down. Cross your arms over your chest. Close your eyes and think peaceful thoughts.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.