You’ve probably seen internet memes and t-shirts with YOLO–You Only Live Once–on them. Well, I am getting a t-shirt made that says LV24. When I wear it, I hope everyone who sees it asks me about it so I can tell them what it means. It means Live 24—live for today, be present, be mindful. This thought has been ringing through my head for nearly a week now. I think Live 24, just like YOLO, is such an important idea, and I wanted to share it with you so much that it brought me back to this blog after a several month absence.
Let me explain…
About six months ago, I spoke on the topic of mindfulness at the Ignite Conference at the University of California San Diego campus. What a great experience it was to be there with all these extraordinary people and talk about how important it is to create and conduct my own business in a way that embraces the idea of living in the moment, being kind, being fully connected to those around me and doing good in the world.
When I am truly present and thinking about my true north, living mindfully comes instinctively to me. Inevitably, work and the world happen and that has a way of taking over and getting me out of the zone. Sometimes it takes a disaster to snap me back into mindfulness, like the shootings in Las Vegas where a friend’s wife was at the Rt 91 concert. He was on the phone with her when the shooting started and had to listen for four excruciating minutes as she ran for the exit and finally got to safety, thankfully physically unharmed.
But Mexico City, Houston, Puerto Rico and now fires in northern California wiping out an entire city like Santa Rosa overnight—all were wake up calls for me, too. I thought I had been shaken back into complete consciousness by these recent events.
Then fast forward to last Saturday.
Almost nothing can shatter your world faster than hearing that one of your dearest friends like my college roommate, Jim, has lost his wife to a tragic illness.
Talking to my friend about his loss was amazing because he was so reflective, so convicted and powerful in his message and it was so timely in a disaster ridden world. He had processed so much thought about his life and experience. The result was a very strong commitment to reach out and share the idea that you really only have the next 24 hours to live. Period. You don’t know anything beyond that.
In other words, live for today. LV24.
My friend spoke deliberately and clearly about how he had trained himself over the years to avoid deep though on almost every subject. But after this experience, he said all he could do was think deeply. He talked about the importance of being kind and loving to everyone around him because in reality, you never know if you will get the opportunity to be loving and kind again. His message rang so true to me that after I spoke with him Saturday morning, I had to tell everyone I ran into about his story and his thought process.
His message was simple but incredibly meaningful and powerful for our times—for the next 24 hours, live as if that is all you have left. Don’t think beyond the next 24 hours, just live in the moment and do what you would do if you knew you only had 24 hours left.
Think about it, if you knew you only had 24 hours to live, you would see your life in a different way. What really matters to you would become immediately clear, and you would conduct yourself in a way that would reflect that clarity. You would make that call to friends and family for no reason other than just to say hello and share some love. You would never want to be angry or rude. You would think about those you would be leaving behind and you would work fast to make sure your emotional bank accounts where in order.
I remember when Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment was first published about 20 years ago. It was about living in the moment and I remember how soothing it was to do just that. But as I said earlier, life happens and living in the moment becomes living in the week, then a monthly calendar and pretty much all the soothing of living in the moment turns into planning for the years ahead. That’s where I was until last Saturday when my friend brought me back to earth with his thought process and the message he wanted to make sure I got.
How does that old saying go? We make plans and God laughs. It’s really a clever way to illustrate that we just have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow, so live for today.
The key is to remember that life is short. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t promised, so we really only have today, anyway. So make the most of it. Be loving, caring and (maybe most importantly in today’s world) be encouraging. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, you can start by simply saying an encouraging or kind word to someone around you. Then allow yourself to relax into it, to shift your focus to the now and comprehend what is all around you at this moment.
For the next 24 hours, be as kind as you can be, as loving as you can be and as present as you can be. Maybe get your own LV24 t-shirt. Share the message of LV24. Then, do it again the next 24 hours. And the 24 after that, too.
If you do this, no matter how many 24s you get, you will always be living in them perfectly! So when your last 24 finally comes around, you will look back at all those 24s and see a beautiful, purposeful and meaningful life. Thanks, Jim!