It is close to midnight, February 28, 2012. Summer is coming to an end and autumn is just a few minutes away. I look back wistfully at all the things I could have done during the holidays.
Suddenly and completely unexpectedly, an extra day of summer falls out of the sky. Twenty-four hours, fourteen hundred and forty minutes, eighty-six thousand, four hundred seconds lie pristine, shiny-new on the ground, each moment pregnant with promise, mine to sculpt into any shape I like.
I skip merrily around it, celebrating the extra day that my life has been increased by. Now is the time to live to the fullest degree, like I never bothered to before, to enjoy and savour every instant of existence, for a miracle has happened and the death sentence all mankind eventually faces has been deferred for 24 hours by the Governor in the Sky.
But then niggling doubts start to assail me, for an inextricable question faces me, a question that has held a pincers-like grip on my mind all my life, yet, I am no closer to finding an answer: How to live my life? Or, the same question reduced to its quotidian form: How to get through the day? That is life’s toughest challenge. If I can solve it, I have got it made.
A brand new day shimmers before me in all of its multitudinous facets, in all of its innumerable permutations, while I just stand there dumbfounded, overwhelmed by the infinite choice offered me. I know not what to do, unable to reach out and hold onto even one possibility.
It is so tempting to take the easy way out, to waste the day, to do nothing. Is there anything more pleasurable than squandering one’s life away in idyllic idleness? But no, I have to give this day the honour it deserves, for after all, if life is a miracle, then being given an extra day to live is a miracle doubled.
Should I spend this day in silence, solitude and stillness, witnessing every moment, writing down even the faintest, most fleeting thought and feeling arising within me, so I can leave a record of my being for posterity? Instead of drifting, like a jellyfish in the ocean, through this day, going through the motions of the same old routine, can I awaken to its true magic and beauty?
Will I experience this day as it truly is, free of all the grime that besmirches its true visage, free of all the trivial annoyances that make life a burden to bear in day-to-day existence? Will this bonus day, shed the dowdy dress with which it conceals its features and stand before me in all of its natural, radiant glory?
Should I grab this day by its legs, turn it upside down and give it a good shaking, so that all the secrets it has stashed in its hidden pockets come tumbling down at my feet?
Should I live this day as if it is the very first day of the rest of my life or as if it is
the very last day of my life? What would it be like to live your very last day, like a condemned man?
Can you imagine breathing your last breath, uttering your last word, tasting your last bite of bread, waking for the last time, seeing your mirror reflection for the last time, appreciating the sky for the last time, checking the time on your watch for the last time, feeling certain, for the very last time, that death is something that only happens to other people
It is impossible to accept there will come a time when we will experience our last moments, yet it is indubitable all of us will have our final day.
The decision lies with you: Every day you are given twenty-four immaculate gems all neatly assembled into one resplendent ornament. Not everyone is privileged to receive such a gift.
Will you wear it as a burden or as a treasure?