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Twenty-four Hours to Live

For most of my life, I've been fascinated by the warrior classes—especially, the ancient Samurai of feudal Japan. To say they were a paradoxical people is an understatement.

The Samurai trained in the arts of life and death: they studied swordsmanship, submission grappling, and archery as well as haiku, the tea ceremony, gardening, and woodworking. They prepared for the future, but didn't wait for it to happen; they lived in the moment as though tomorrow didn't exist—because, to them, it didn't. All they had was "right now." They had children, and yet raised them to live as though Mom and Dad might not be around an hour hence.

Theirs was a way of life so utterly simple, and yet incomprehensibly complex. They cultivated an unnatural naturalness and a natural unnaturalness in nearly every aspect of life, and they lived by an ancient, internal code that simply reminded them to be present and devoted completely to their current experience.

I recall a story I read many years ago (see note 1) about a martial arts instructor who posed the following question to his adult students: "If you learned today you had only twenty-four hours left to live, what would you do with the time you had left?" The answers he received were varied, as one might expect. Some spoke of how they would spend their time with their families; others of how they would visit places they'd always wanted to see but never did; and still others of how they would devote themselves to some form of service.

After listening intently for a few minutes, the teacher spoke highly of several of the answers he'd heard. But then he spoke of his sadness: "No one answered with what I would consider the best possible answer," he said, "and that's this: I wouldn't live any differently than I am right now."

In the U.S. alone, more than two million people died last year—many from things unexpected. Just like some of us will someday.

Maybe even today.

If you had only twenty-four hours left to live, and knew it, how differently would you live your last day?

Take a few minutes, and really give it some thought. Maybe even write-out your answers. And then go live them out right now. And, if God blesses you with more time, do it again tomorrow, the day after that, the day after that, and the day after that...



1. I first read of this concept in the article, "24 Hours to Live," by Larry Richardson, which was first published in the June 1999 issue of Black Belt magazine.


IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):

Mondays: Meditative Prayer

Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline

Fridays: Martial Arts Practice


The Life You Were Born to Live

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