If I knew I were dying, this is what I would do.

Jim Suszynski
5 min readJul 30, 2021

P.S…I am.

Overlooking Vulcan de Agua from Acetenango, 2019.

I think about this every day.

I know very well that my life could end in an instant. Any instant.

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

Marcus Aurelius. Meditations 2.11

Most people quote the bible, I prefer Marcus. Why? Because most scripture is written in metaphor and I believe, wholeheartedly, that we are not rational beings but rationalizing beings. It’s easy to twist a bit of scripture to make it suit you.

The meditations do not let you do that. They make you look inward. You never judge anyone but yourself and the measuring stick by which you judge is that of virtue. Also — the thoughts, fears, and aspirations of the most powerful man in the world are just as relevant millennia later, to everyone. From a homeless child to an oil sheik. It’s human nature, across time, in words.

Truth be told, I am doing everything I want to be doing (within reason). I try not to leave things left unsaid for I may never again have the chance to say them. I try my hardest to not spend time doing things that either A- do not bring me joy, or B- do not serve my greater purpose.

Some might say, if I knew I was going to die, I would stop working this job or dating this person or _____ (insert X, Y, and/or Z). Truth is, you are dying. We all are. Time only goes in one direction and our time, well, it only counts down.

I lost many loved ones when I was just a young kid. Mortality was all around me — it got me thinking early on about how my own life will also end and I found comfort, eventually, by giving myself the freedom to do what I loved. I didn’t take the “conventional” route. Nowadays it seems more normal to make your own way with the amount of business done online, but 10–15 years ago that wasn’t as much the case, especially coming from a very conservative town and a family who’d never left it.

If I were to choose just a few things that make the biggest impact on what I would continue doing (or start if I hadn’t already made this discovery), they would be the following:

  • The Rule of 5’s — Will this matter in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 years, 5 decades…