A man should not leave this earth with unfinished business. He should live each day as if it was a pre-flight check. He should ask each morning, am I prepared to lift-off?
-Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure
From "A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last" by Stephen Levine:
It is suggested that we practice dying (find a perfect day to die) with a very interesting and enjoyable and sometimes frightening exercise called 'Taking a Day Off.' It is a daylong contemplation of seeing the world without ourselves in it. It speaks to that place within us that asks, How can I not be among you? Some call this practice 'Dead for a Day.' We walk the streets as though we were not there, as though we had died yesterday. We see the world in our absence. We act as though we were already dead and had this last chance to visit the world we have left behind. We grieve for ourselves and go on.
The power of such an exercise is demonstrated in the popularity of such films as It's a Wonderful Life
. Something essential is drawn to the surface when we recognize that This day may be the last day of the rest of our life
Experience each breath as though it were the last. Enter each moment, each conversation, each lovemaking, each meal, each prayer, each meditation as though there may never be another.
Just as yesterday we pretended to be dead, today we pretend we are alive. We walk the streets filled with presence. We watch the gratitude at our rapid recovery. We cut out the middleman of death, not needing to die in order to take our next incarnation, we take birth now, in the middle of the street, in the midst of a life redoubled by new birth.
We enter life so fully that even if we died it would not spoil our day.