If you had one month left to live, what would you do?

During Gary Kayye’s #BrandingofMe class, he taught us about the value of stream of consciousness writing. At the end of our class, Gary provided us a few instructions: write for five straight minutes and record exactly what comes to mind. 

The prompt: If you had one month left to live, what would you do?

Now before I go on, I highly suggest you do this exercise yourself. Open up a document or grab a pencil and paper. Set a timer for five minutes and seclude yourself in a space where you feel comfortable and inspired. Play some music while you’re at it. Here’s a playlist that gets me inspired.

When your five minutes are up, meet me back here. 

Ok…I’m going to read you mine and then if you want, you can share your’s with me in the contact section on my website, www.oliviaccohen.com.

Here is mine: 

“If I had one month to live, I would drop out of UNC. However, I would bring together all of my family and friends and try and spend one last meaningful day with each of them. I would end with my immediate family on the last day. Each day, I would do something that I haven’t done before that would bring me closer with the people I love. I would also write everyone a handwritten note telling them what they mean to me and give it to them at the end of our last day together. I would quit my jobs and make sure to spend lots of time outside and in the sunshine. I would go to the beach and go to the mountains one last time. I would also want to write as much as possible because this is what ignites me inside. I would eat a lot of junk food because even though I know its bad for you thats what I enjoy doing. I would try and spend as little time on my electronics as possible and be as present as possible. I wouldn’t try to initiate any new relationships, just focus on the ones I already have and tell the people how much I care about them. I would try not to be sad and rather appreciate the time and people that I do have left. I would listen to a lot of music and also buy a drum set and put it in my apartment because I wouldn’t have to worry about a noise violation because what is the point. I would also like to confront people who have hurt me in the past and stand up for myself.” 

It’s daunting to see your final wishes written down in such a casual way. It wasn’t until Gary revealed why we were doing this activity that I understood its’ purpose. 

“These are your passions. If you had one month left to live, you would only focus on the things that you truly care about.”

I sat is disbelief and felt an indescribable wave of bittersweet emotion consume me. Was I routinely doing enough on my list? If something terrible were to happen, would I feel like I did enough? Going forward, these questions are something I want to consider in my everyday actions.

Thank you, Gary, for opening my eyes to what really matters. If you haven’t already, I suggest you reflect on your day-to-day actions. Not their outcome, but rather why you do them.

Published by oliviaccohen

My name is Olivia Cohen and I am an Advertising/PR major at UNC-Chapel Hill. Go Heels! My passion for storytelling consumes me, as I am dedicated to learning how to share impactful messages through a variety of mediums. Throughout my education and work experience, I have dabbled in journalism, creative writing, copywriting, and vocal narratives. My goal is to never stop learning. I aim to use my outgoing personality and competitive nature to help companies share their stories in a concise and impactful manner.

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