Life isn’t a rehearsal it’s a performance. From the time we are born, we are dying. On a planet that is 4.4 billion years old. The average human life expectancy in the Western world is 80 years. While in some third world countries it is as low as 40 years. In the vastness of the cosmos, we are a mere blip in time. Yet, the very fact of being alive is a gift and we should grasp every opportunity to live to the fullest expression of our personal potential during our allocated time on Earth.

Life is priceless

The time we are given in life is priceless, it is our greatest asset. We take it mostly for granted and don’t value it. We cannot buy time, cannot extend it, trade it or sell it. Time is ours to use in whatever way we want. We can waste it or we can use it to create our dream life, to achieve our personal bucket list, to develop our potential and create a great legacy.

No one of us knows how long we will live. We all know people who have died prematurely—children, students, young adults and friends that died far too soon. This knowledge should serve as a timely reminder to honour every year, month, week, day and minute of our existence. We should celebrate our life by making the most of the gift we have been given; by being the best that we can be; by living interesting, valuable lives and by leaving behind the best possible legacy that we can.

Once, during an interview on national radio, the presenter asked me if I thought that the lives of adventurers are selfish because, by following our dreams of travelling to the most dangerous parts of the planet, there is an increased risk that we will die. A friend and fellow explorer had recently died while on an expedition in Antarctica. I explained that I have completed numerous expeditions in some of the harshest environments in the world and had survived. I’ve had wonderful experiences during my travels, learning about many different cultures and experiencing life among 32 different native tribes. My family, I said, have always been very supportive of my passion and are very proud of my achievements.

Within 24 hours

I went on to explain that recently I attended hospital for a routine check-up. Within 24 hours due to a complication with the procedure. I developed sepsis and was only hours from total organ failure but, thankfully, made a full recovery. Three months later, a friend went into the hospital with tendonitis. He, too, developed sepsis but didn’t survive and died at the age of 56. These experiences reinforced my long-held belief that we should never put off what it is we want to do in our life. We do not know how much time we have left and it makes sense to live every moment as if it were our last.

Sometimes we wrap ourselves protectively in cotton wool, afraid to challenge ourselves, to step outside the box and to live the life that, deep down, we want to live. We owe it to ourselves to make the most of our life while we are on Earth. Too many of us don’t do this. We don’t fulfil our dreams, goals or aspirations because of fear—fear of critics, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of success, fear of the demands that following our dreams or fulfilling our goals require, fear of change. It is often very hard to find the courage needed to step out of the comfort zone of the habitual and into the journey of adventure that our lives should be; the journey that allows us to reach our full potential.

active agents in our own lives

We all need to be active agents in our own lives and to take responsibility for how we are living that life. An effective way to do this is to make the fact of our death a constant companion. The Irish poet John O’Donohue wrote: ‘From the moment you were born/Your death has walked beside you.’ Its presence acts as a reminder to live life intensely and joyfully, squeezing as much as possible out of each day.

When we accept the inevitability of death, it brings peace of mind and acts as a wake-up call to live the best life that we are capable of living, the life that we would love to look back on from our deathbed when the end comes. No matter what age we are, what skills we have, what educational qualifications we have, what job we are in, what luggage we are carrying, now is the right time to explore the possibilities of own life. Now is the time to achieve something we have always wanted to achieve, to fulfil a dream and challenge the limits of our capabilities.

80 years = 960 months = 4,160 weeks = 29,120 days

Assess where you are in terms of the average lifespan

Are you happy with how you are living your life right now?

If not, now is the moment to make a decision to start living the life that you want

Live your life as if it was your most important performance ever

Fear only the regret of not having followed your dreams

Life isn’t a rehearsal it’s a performance

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