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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

Tick Tock Tick

Close-up sepia-toned view of old clock

Suppose you had one year to live. What would you do with that time? What places would you want to visit? What would you want to say to the people you love? What beloved TV shows and movies would you want to see one more time?


Those are questions I’ve asked myself as I’m dealing with a serious form of blood cancer. So far, the chemo treatments have been working well. If they continue doing the job, I can have several years of healthy, happy life ahead. But I'm fully aware that the treatments can stop working at any time. When that happens, my only remaining option is to undergo a risky bone marrow transplant.


A situation like this dramatically shakes up any comforting notions we had of longevity and expected lifespan, and inspires us to reflect on how we’d spend our final year.


For me, I'm happy to realize that if I had 12 months left I would continue doing the same things that have always brought me joy: spending time with my wife and family … playing with our grandkids … taking photographs … and traveling.


This fall, Bonnie and I are taking a trip to the Normandy and Brittany regions of France. The trip was originally planned for 2020, but we had to cancel due to Covid international travel restrictions. We don’t want to postpone it any longer — this is the year to go.


When you understand that the clock is ticking, you feel the urgency of life and you hear the compelling call to live each year as if it’s your last — even if it’s not.

By the way, in case you’re wondering: Which TV shows and movies do I want to make sure I watch one more time? For movies, it’s Big Fish, Amadeus, Cinema Paradiso and Life of Pi.  For TV series, I’m going to rewatch all 12 smart, funny, heartwarming seasons of The Big Bang Theory. And then I’m going to rewatch Ken Burns’ brilliant eight-part documentary miniseries, Country Music. Even if you’re not a country music fan, you’ll be deeply moved by the life stories of the artists, from Hank Williams to Johnny Cash to Dolly Parton to Kris Kristofferson — some unbelievably tragic, some incredibly inspirational.


How about you? If you had one year left, what would be at the top of your list of things to see and do? My advice to you is this: Don't put these things off, thinking you'll always have more time.

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