Doctor: Arif, You have only six months to live.

What if you truly had just six more months to live.
Stop and give it a thought. What if you truly had just six more months to live. What if yesterday you went down to your family doctor. You go to him with the results of certain tests he had asked you to do for some silly little pain like a headache or something like that. There you are sitting across the table from him and he says, Buddy, theres no easy way to say this. So, Im just going to spell it out. Arif, you have only six more months to live. Were in the middle of August, six months later this year, say end Feb you will breathe your last. Its not a might, its not maybe, but you WILL breathe your last breath in the end of February. I thought it best that I tell you that now then you finding it out later. Im really sorry, Arif. I strongly recommend getting all your affairs in order now.

If that was really the case how are you going to spend the last six months of your life? Id tell you how Id do it. Id certainly spend much more time in the slums of India, seeing what difference can I make there. Id spend much more time doing much more charity. Indulge more in the pleasures of reading. And interestingly Id be much less worried about money and how well is the next Vakil Housing Project selling or not. What does it matter how well our Company is doing or not, I have ONLY six more months to live! You know what else would be different. I would be so much be, Living in the Now. If Id be having a cup of coffee, Id breathe in the aroma before I bring it to my lips. Id cherish each deep sip of that coffee, feel the hot rush down my throat into my belly. Why? Gosh this would be my last cup of coffee. And its not just coffee. Every single moment would be so precious, so special, cause its not going to come back. Ever. Be it when Im with a friend or a colleague at office, Id be giving my full, focused, undivided attention, as this just may be the last time Id be with him. You know, even if somebody were to cuss, curse and swear at me, it would still sound so beautiful. No matter what would go wrong in life, if I had only six months to live, gosh, Id not waste even a thought of complaint to any situation, person or event. Why spend any moment in any sort of mental agony, if you have only six months to live.

We actually do have just that much time.
And you know whats the best bit. We actually do have just that much time. We really have just six months to live. Im not kidding. Because, it will seem just like that when you look back at your life. We were with mum the other day and we happened to ask Mum, how long does it seem her life has been. She said, oh son, it seems as if I have just closed my eyes and opened it & my entire life can be fitted in that minute time frame. We said, Oh come on Mum. Youre over 50 years old. FIFTY WHOLE YEARS. You are married with two kids, one of whom whos married. There were so many ups and downs, during life, earlier we were based in Dubai, now weve moved to India, so much has happened so many memories, does it really seem so short? Mums replied in her wisdom, Oh it seems so short only, and keep talking, in a few years you too will see how short life is.

Some of you may remember the blog post and website Id put up when I was getting married. Well its been two whole years since that time. Two Years. Gosh, how does time fly. Man, it really seems I got married just last week or last month or so.

So, think about it, how would you spend your life, what woudl you be doing differently than you are doing now, if you had just six more months to live?

This is a follow-on to a brilliant post that Ali wrote titled, How to find and fulfill your Lifes Purpose on GTD Times. One of the questions Ali mentioned to help you find your “Outer Purpose” is by asking yourself, what if you had only six months to live? What would you spend your maximum time doing?

23 Comments

  1. Sometimes, I feel, it’s not even 6 months…we live within a frame of a few seconds….let us live up to our own ideals, then we will become much better people.

  2. Wow! Somehow, for any reason, people around me are focusing on Death alot these day!And now here i have an article in front of me dealing with the same topic.
    The truth of the matter is that Life and death are obviously closly realted but we tend to divert our atteintion to this world and all that it holds. Because of that we lose focus in life after death, The eternal life. We just want to live life to the fullest not caring about our hereafter.
    If i did fine out that i have 6mths time, i guess my first impulse would be to buy those Gucci shoes i have been wanting, and another Fendi handbag.
    Later, i would go home and get an amazing guilt trip for wasting all that money and not utalizing it properly, I mean i could have spent it on building a mosque or a school, helped raise money or any charitable cause…….
    Unfortunately, i dint build my Akhira and gave into the whims and desires of this world.
    May Allah guide those who seek refuge in him at times of grief,Amein.

  3. 1.Look back and prioritze what can be done in six months to do the best for my family , security… clear of debts:)
    2. Not definitely go to office from 9-6 , instead in 2/3 hrs finsh the same and see what more can be done to fulfill point 1…
    4. Spend more time with parents, kids , wife, brother & sisters…

  4. Hi Arif

    That truly is a thought-provoking question to start off my week with! Actually, Anu had asked me this once and I had told her I would like to travel and see all the beautiful places in this world. I still maintain that… I would like to go to all my dream detinations, spend lots and lots of tile with my loved ones, create memories they can cherish when I am no longer there, get all my affairs in order and prepare myself for the end (or the beginning) spiritually.

    I have always felt that we should live every day as if it were our last. That way we probably will be better humans.
    Sieze the moment. Live in the now. For that is all we have.

    Cheers!

  5. Wow, some really insightful and thought provoking comments posted here.

    Deepa: You’re so right, on both counts. 1. Six months? Many times it feels as if one’s entire life can be fit in just one involuntary blink of an eye. 2. All one needs to is identify one’s core values and give your life in living up to them. But it’s so easier said then done.

  6. Salaams Nadia,

    You will always see what you focus upon. If I say the colour “Focus on the colour Red and look around the room for the same colour”, you will see Red all over the room now. Go ahead, try it. Look for all the Red colour that’s there in the room. I’m looking around my office now and I see run in multiple places. The Red was always there you may not have noticed it because you were not focussed upon it. That’s the way the mind works. What ever you put your focus upon that’s what you will see.

    If you’re seeing people all around you talking about Death, maybe that’s what you’re focussing upon? Somebody else may see this post as a post on Really living Life to its fullest.

  7. – Hi Santosh, clearly the most practical comment so far. Indeed debts to repay and commitments to honour are to be top in our priority list.

    – Thanks for the lovely comment Nahida. Perspective of life is such a slippery object. It’s questions like these that return a more realistic point of view. Yes travelling is a brilliant suggestion. You know, what I would like to do too travel so that I may visit my so many relatives who live outside of Bangalore. Time so just flies by, it would be wonderful to see them, spend time with them and like you said “make memories for them to cherish”.

  8. Nadia,

    After you mentioned it now even I’m focussing upon death :-)

    Here’s a Ahadith I came across of Imam Ali (AS) on death and remembering dying:

    Imam Ali was following a funeral and as it was passing along a road, somebody laughed loudly ( a sign of discourtesy and lack of manner ). Hearing this laugh, Imam Ali remarked, ” Some of us feel that death is meant for everybody except themselves or it is destined to others and not to themselves or those whom we see dying around us are only travelers going on a journey and will come back to us. It is a sad sight to see that in one moment we commit them to earth and in the next we take hold of the things left by them as if we are going to remain permanently in this world after them.

  9. Assalaam alaikum,

    If i have six month of life left with me than my 1st priority would be to understand a complete meaning of quraan, & would try to implement 100% in my rest of life(quraan).Try to do a good things which will help me for my aqirath.Before my death i will make sure inshaallha my deen would be 100% Mukammel. Thats all ,

    Allhahafiz.

  10. Words of wisdom from some one so young!
    I have often thought about this, but then you must remember that I am 55! While that makes me older I am not sure if that makes me wiser!I think the normal reaction would be “It can”t happen to me!This doctor does not know what he is talking about, let me get a second opinion!
    The trouble is many of us live in denial.Life is transient and all of us want to live for ever.My father God bless him is 92, has excellent health and yet keeps looking at his medical reports every day looking for unseen dangers.
    I feel like telling him “Appa , you have lived a full life, enjoy every day it is a bonus!
    And yet it may seem callous or insensitive, but that is what your blog reminds me what I have to say and think.
    If today is the last day of your life, then what would you do.
    Clearly do the right things, be patient as you say, do charity, be considerate to your fellow human beings and do not forget your family, for after all they have put up with you!
    Sridhar

  11. Salaams Arif Bhai,

    Indeed a thought-provoking question.In response, I would like to quote Michael Pritchard and he says ” No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather “.Therefore, all one needs to do is, strive to see maximum number of people in their funeral. On hindsight, perhaps it can only be achieved by “how you were” and not “what you were”.

    Cheers,
    Rahman

  12. – Inayat: Kya baat farmaya hai aap nay. I was just mentioning the same thing to Ali yesterday or so. So much of my life has passed by, I’ve not yet and implemented the Quran the way it’s supposed to. Infact one of my recent year long goals is precisely this, to read the Quran in it’s original form and it’s translation once every year, so that I’m constantly under it’s guidance.

    – Mr. Sridhar: Thanks for your kind words Sridhar. But it’s Ali who gets the credit for the entire thought process behind the post. I’m merely the scribe.

    – Rahman! So good to hear from you. Your comment reminds me of another Ahadith of Imam Ali (AS): “Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.”

  13. Dear Arif Sir, Assalamo alaikum,

    Very thought provoking post. Agree with every word of it. Sachmuch, there would be so many things we won’t do, and so many things we would, were such a possibility realize itself.

    For example, we ‘ll stop worrying about most of (if not 100%) the things we do, not getting enough promotions at job, not getting enough admiration from boss at job (wrt other colleagues), not getting good enough school for our kid (wrt neighbor’s kid), not owning good enough flat (wrt our ex colleague, batch mates) etc etc.
    And many things we take for granted, mainly the love / care / affection of our family and close friends, we won’t.
    And finally, we ‘d stop cribbing to God that IT has not given us this favor, that favor, cause we would realize HE has given us infinite things to be thankful for … foremost among them: “having just six months (or less) to live” hasn’t still come from a doc.
    Perhaps life can be lived a lot better if we live it as if we had only few more months / weeks to live.
    Also, read the following long back somewhere over the net, and was reminded of it after reading your post:
    I asked God, “What surprises you most about mankind?”
    God answered: “That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die,and they die as if they had never lived…”

  14. Thanks for the great article.

    Without remembering that your time in this life is limited, I believe that there would be a tendency to procrastinate, to act as if you had all the time in the world to achieve your goals.

    An understanding of one’s own mortality can focus one on what is truly important.

  15. Nabi – So True. Your comment reminded me of a little joke a friend and Religous Speaker Hassanain Rajabali often says. He commented on the fact how little appreciate so many benefits we have but we take for granted, so he further added, “We should tell our employers not to give our Salary at the end of the month. But to delay it. Because it’s then we realise and appreciate it’s true value more.” Same with our lives isn’t it? It’s only when we begin to see the finishing line that we realise oh-how precious it is.

    Dan – Thanks for the comment. So True. We often think and plan as if we’re gonna live forever. When Death is such a stark reality, I wonder why is it so?

  16. Arif/Ali- I was absolutely stunned after you article! Thank you! I myself always think about how: we really need to start dying to start living. People always think there is more time ahead of us… we’ll do that later!

    About a few weeks ago I watched Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” he gave before he passed away – see my post here:

    http://dimasayswow.blogspot.com/2008/08/live-life-like-its_15.html

    and it reminded me so much about how our “fulfillment of childhood dreams” should never stop! I think about this – but I always forget and get caught up in day to day life. You know – all the people who read this, at first you think a lot about this, and then you have many things to do and you start to forget…

    Here is to not forgetting to live like you have 6 months left! Aweeesome post!

    Shoot me an email – would love to connect!

    -Dmitry

  17. hina. salaams arif sir,
    well,im speechless.every single word of this article is so true.especially what your mum said.everything seems yo have happened just yesterday.the article has indeed helped me look at life in a positive way,value every second of life and utilize the precious time working hard to make myself capable of helping the needy in future.i think now i will take my career more seriously.RAMZAAN MUBARAK.

  18. Hi Arif Bhai,
    You both brothers are doing a fantabulous thinking.Thanks a lot for making one realize how fast time/days will pass. I was just trying to recollect my 33 years of life but as truly said by your mom I can quickly glance in a minute the entire 33 years. Its like enlightment for me.
    Right from this moment you have made me beleive that i will live only for next six months and do prompting me to do the best possible to the human kind.
    Please do keep giving us these kinds of gyaan.

  19. Hi Dmitry,

    Wow, thank you very much for the generous comment. The thoughts on the blog post were solely of my younger brother Ali, I just scripted it out.

    Randy Pausch’s last lecture is really doing rounds on the internet, isn’t it. I watched half, before I had to get back to work from my coffee break, looking forward to complete the rest soon. I’m certainly all for achieving childhood dreams however one should not be mesermised by them completely to be blinded to Adulthood dreams. Sure as a child one may dream to be an Astronaut, a Rock Star and subsequently he may go all out and bag that fantasy, but there still remains unanswered that ultimate one nagging question which is, so what? You have done something that you have always wanted to do, how exactly has that helped to make the world a better place? How has that fed the stomachs of hundreds of hungry children? Is that what’s one’s ultimate purpose of existence is? There has to be more to life than fulfilling childhood fantasies.

    Don’t get me wrong Dmitry. I’ve got nothing against childhood dreams, as long as it’s looked with the right perspective. Childhood dreams are great, but sometimes there are issues that are of higher priority and our boyhood dreams should not obscure those off.

    However, the crux of the matter is still the same. We are so caught up in our day to day routines, so that we can continue to sustain our lavish lifestyles that be it childhood dreams or saving the world from economic crises/poverty/global warming, we just dont’ have time to lookup from our laptops to do something about them. I totally agree that speeches like Randy Pausch’s grab hold of our guts and give them a vigorous shake to remind us what’s really important.

    You’ve may have read Tuesdays with Morrie had a look the speeches of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates at their respective universities. However, if not, all of the below are worth going through and are above the lines of this post and comment.:
    Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man and Life’s Greatest Lesson
    Speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford
    Speech that Bill Gates delivered at Harvard

    Warm wishes,
    Arif
    Ps. by the way liked your blog :-). Added your feed to my reader.

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