post written by: Marc Chernoff

Why I Live Every Day Like It’s My Last


Live Every Day

Laugh with every breath.
Love as long as you live.

A Good Girl

Alyssa was my best friend.  She was a talented musician, a graceful gymnast, a brilliant writer, and a deeply passionate individual.  She cared so much about people.  Love bled from every facet of her being.  When she spoke, her eyes were as sincere as her words.  And she always wanted to understand what was wrong so she could strive to make it better.

But Alyssa woke up one day during her senior year in college with a strange pain in her chest.  The on-campus doctors didn’t understand why, so they referred her to a specialist.  After several MRIs and blood tests, they determined that she had a rare, escalated case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma – a form of cancer.  She spent the next three years suffering through varying degrees of pain and sickness as multiple doctors treated her with radiation and chemotherapy.  And although these doctors were initially hopeful, Alyssa’s condition worsened, and she eventually passed away on her 25th birthday.

A Bad Guy

Ethan was also my friend.  Though not as multi-talented as Alyssa, he was insanely smart – particularly when it came to money and business tactics.  But he didn’t care about people.  I eventually learned, just before ending our eight year friendship, that he ripped people off for a living.  He primarily targeted elderly folks who had a relatively small life savings.  “They’re all suckers,” he told me.  And he felt no remorse because, he continued, “they’ll be dead soon anyway.”

Today, at the age of 28, Ethan is a multi-millionaire.  And although we haven’t spoken in years, I’ve heard from others that he still hasn’t gotten into any legal trouble – largely, I think, because of the calculated threats that I’ve heard he makes to anyone he suspects might have a good conscience.  I hear, also, that he doesn’t suffer from any major health problems, and that he, his trophy wife, and his two healthy sons live in a mansion somewhere in Southern California.

The Reason

These are old stories – familiar stories.  The people and the circumstances differ slightly for everyone who tells them, but the core lessons remain the same.  Life isn’t fair.  Bad things do happen to good people.  And good things do happen to bad people.

Yet, these are the excuses many of us use when we choose not to follow our hearts.  And they are the excuses many of us use when we choose to treat ourselves and each other without dignity and respect.  “Why care?” we argue, “When the Alyssa’s of the world suffer and die young while the Ethan’s of the world sip wine at a five-star resort well into their 80’s.”

But for some of us, Alyssa and Ethan are the reason we do follow our hearts.  His story is the reason we live to make the world a little brighter, to make people a little happier.  And her story is the reason we use all of the strength we have right now.  Because we know we may not have the same strength tomorrow.

Because a world with no guarantees requires us to live every day…

As if it were our last.

Photo by: Stuant63

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40 Comments

  • are those real examples? sadly, it’s true that bad things happen to good people and vice versa. but you’re right, it doesn’t excuse us from living the best life that we can as if there were no tomorrow. it’s like this quote “today is a good day to die” which can interchange to “today is a good day to live”.. basically the same as live each day as if it were your last.

  • Floreta,

    Yeah… sadly, these stories are real. Life is sometimes confusing and unfair. But it only motivates me more to make my time here count.

    ;-)

    Hope you have a great week.

  • Hello Marc, nice post. I felt sad yet inspired by reading this. I’m sorry for your friend. She reminded me of somebody I knew in college, who’s not rich but did everything she could in her power to make the lives of other people better.

    I had another friend, who was very egotistical. He put other people down a lot and didn’t really care for others. He ended up getting consumed in business and making tons of money. We stopped talking to each other, after about a 8 year friendship.

    I think sometimes the world works like this is because a lot of it deals when we let our ego’s blind us from loving other people, causing us to become greedy, selfish, and take advantage of others.

    Some people who are like both of our friends get what they want, while other people who are nice end up suffering. This isn’t always the case however, but yeah, life isn’t always fair, and it’s good advice that you say live everyday like it’s your last one.

  • I have come to understand that we cannot judge what is fair or unfair, because we do not see the bigger picture. I have given up to even think about fairness. What is more useful is to indeed discern with your heart, to keep harvesting the love that people like Alyssa sowed and disassociate yourself from people like Ethan.
    It is not my place to wonder about Ethan, but it is my place to fondly accept Alyssa’s heritage.
    And that is done by you writing this post and me reading this.
    Love Wilma

  • God plays no favorite’s - I know a lot of people like Ethan and trust me it will catch up with him somehow, he’s 28 now and doing fine but wait until he’s 35, 40. Then you’ll see

  • Hi both Marc and Angel.

    These juxtaposed examples sure do serve to remind us to be fired up about the opportunity we have. For every Ethan, there is a potential John or Mike that can out-do Ethan and remain on the good end of the spectrum. That could be any of us.

    ‘Strong and unethical’ beats ‘weak and ethical’, but ’strong and ethical’ can beat ’strong and unethical’, if enough vigor is there.

    Ethan might have been right about elderly people being close to their passing, but they don’t need to depart thinking about how a smooth businessman took their last piece of wealth.

  • I wonder if life is not fair, will afterlife will be fair.

  • Marc, I’m sorry to hear about your loss of your good friend. This story reflects a similar experience I shared this week about my best friend Chris, who lost his life in a motorcycle accident at just 22. His birthday was September 17th, which even 5 years later is always a tough day for me, but I try to use it as a reminder to do the most with our short time here just like you speak of. I thought I was having a rough week, but then our little friend Ali Baba, one of the kids at an orphanage we help to raise money for, lost his life on Thursday. Just another reminder that this world isn’t fair, when a cheerful, wonderful little 4 year old goes before his time like that. But we have to persist and do the most we can with our lifetimes.

  • According to lady who sat down next to me in the laundromat yesterday, and forced her life stories on to me as soon as she figured out that I’m a good listener - these are called our Soul Stories :)

  • Fantastic! Everyone should live every day as if it’s his or her last… Such an important message!

  • My mom was the kind, compassionate one who died before her time. The others… the ones that add very little value to this world? Oh, I’ve known plenty of those.

    I live every day as if it were my last because I’m well aware it just might be. While I’m here, I want to do my best to finish what my mother started… spreading love and compassion as far as possible.

  • I also love to live everyday as if it were my last.
    great post!

  • You never know what else goes on in Ethan’s life. He’s probably paying the price for his actions, if he isn’t sooner or later Ethan will. You reap what you sow. God bless him.

  • The same should apply to how you treat people - treat them as if this day was their last.

  • Powerful post. It seems only right that someone like Alyssa, who lived her life ideally, would have what we classify as the “great” things in life, and someone like Ethan, who continually disregarded what was right, would never be rewarded with anything. However, as you pointed out, things are just not as predictable as that. There are some things that we initially classify as “bad” that ultimately have a silver lining and later we understand and appreciate their importance in our lives. There are also other things that we will never understand or be able to make sense of. To me, these stories drive home the point that you do have to genuinely believe that everything happens for a reason. Although it doesn’t make it any easier to see something challenging happening to someone like Alyssa who is living their life right, it does allow us to not take away the wrong message from her story and from Ethan’s. Because, regardless of how things turned out in each of their lives, what we do know for certain is that someone like Alyssa shows us how life is to really meant to be lived. And, although we may never have all the answers and explanations, we do know there is something to be admired about people who are living their lives according to the best ideals. People like Alyssa can and should inspire us to live each day as best we can. Thanks for the insightful post.

  • And I bet that Alyssa died happy and Ethan dies sad. Just a guess. Thanks for the always thoughtful articles.

  • It is my supposition that Ethan will one day come to a realization what he has done when he has his “come to Jesus” moment. Whether it be sooner or later, he will realize what he has done and how he has been able to prosper at the expense of others. Externally people may look at him as lucky to live the life he does but he has to live it in his shoes.

    The story of Alyssa is very sad. I have similar stories about people we know, beautiful people, who have died early in life tragically, out of the blue.

    I agree. We have to live every day as if it is our last. I haven’t always lived that way but the older I get, the more I try. Thanks for the reminder.

    Very poignant post…

    Best,
    Bob

  • Very touching post. Felt sad. It is true that sometimes we feel that life is so unfair especially when good things happen to bad people. Hope one day it will all make sense; all things turn out to be good…

  • The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside us while we live. ~Norman Cousins

  • This is so simple. It makes me wonder how I ever lost track of things. It makes me wonder how I forgot to stop and smell the roses today. I love that your posts offer me a fresh reminder, a fresh dose of reality, and optimism that could really help anyone live a more fulfilling life. Keep on keepin’ on!

    - Cam

  • I dont think that Ethan will be self-concious in a way you think in the future. He would have some doubts about the morality of what he is doing right now if he was to be regretful in the future. When he has some dissonance, he will easily regulate it by some actions such as giving some money to charity etc., the ego satisfaction will easily be maintained.
    He may die in a more painful way as some say, but that will not be because he was bad or immoral, more to do with the high cholesterol, alcohol level due to all the rubbish he puts in his mouth.
    On a side note, the reasoning for Ethan’s life in the conclusion makes no sense at all

  • Amazing post! It’s really true that life does not seem to be fair enough. But, there is a delicate invisible balance that keeps it going and in good order. Life can only be lived in the true sense when we live it as if today is our last day. Keep up the great work!

  • oh the realities of life.

  • What a fantastic reminder to live our days fully. I think what makes it so hard to live our day “as our last” is that we have FEAR.

    I think if we can simply live PRESENTLY, we will get more out of our daily lives and it will also reduce fear.

    Thanks for the great post!

    Cheers,

    Dayne
    TheHappySelf.com

  • Yes, looking for life to be fair is a younger interpretation of our school days and a way to try and make sense out of life. As we mature emotionally and psychologically, if we continue holding on to this limited way of thinking, we are living with unrealistic expectations. There may be no outward justice in life and it can look like folks are happily getting away with something. But from my 20 something years as a psychotherapist and energy healer, that is not usually true. In the unseen world, folks who live their lives from fear and greed rarely live with inner peace.

    Dr. Jennifer Howard

  • I found this a beautiful article especially the insight into the fact that we DON’T know what tomorrow will bring so we must live each day as our last, fully, lovingly, forgiving-ly, gratefully, compassionately and more.

    I also would add this: It may appear that good things are happening to Ethan, but I don’t believe that having all the money he needs, the mansion and all the rest is necessarily a good thing for him. I believe that deep in his soul there is still the original “child soul” who wants a good life, wants to love and be loved, and be seen as a good person, but somewhere a long the way he became lost. I also believe that his “child soul” knows that he is not yet those things and that he does/did things that hurt other. And that they are of no value to him or anyone else, that he still hasn’t really achieved what his “heart” desires. But he stuffs those thoughts/feelings down so far they may not be conscious. However he is walking around empty and in some ways “soulless” or without purpose because he STILL doesn’t really have the “good things” we all need and seek….to love and be loved, to be at peace with others and ourselves, to feel that we are a good person and that others revere us. In reality he has nothing of real value.

    I only say this so that maybe we all can keep perspective on what is truly of value. It will also help to live your beautiful premise of fully living each day as if it were our last. You are very wise and your words here are precious. They are indeed EVERYTHING, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

    Thank you so much,
    Robin Easton

  • These stories point out that life is not fair, it just is.

    Before we decide that Ethan is living the good life, keep in mind that we only see his outsides. His low regard for the misery of others and willingness to benefit from their suffering conceals low self regard and an emptiness that no amount of money can fill.

    Each of us has the responsibility to choose daily lives that are meaningful and fulfilling to us. That way, it doesn’t matter whether we live one more day or one hundred more years.

  • In life we have passion we want to achieve. No matter what the means we employ(good or bad), if we work hard for it, we will achieve it.

    Nature favors those who strive, not those who is good or bad. Life is all about lesson. It’s not about good or bad, its about how a person live his/her life. :-)

  • Thank for a poignant reminder of why we really do need to appreciate each day to its fullest and never take our family or own health for granted. I’ll be sure to have your story on my mind when my wife and kids greet me tonight at our front door (God willing).

  • I think the important thing is that we all realize the value of both the Alyssas and the Ethans of the world. There is a lesson in every person’s story. The deeper you look… the more you learn. And if a learning opportunity is created, even under the worst circumstances, the benefits are as undeniable as any notable misfortune.

  • Thanks for sharing this - great post! Diane

  • If this was my last day alive, i would not go to work, even though I love what i do…

    And the crimes I would commit… LOL.

  • Marc, you’ve met those people because they resonated with you. This is the most important thing to take out of your experience with them - yes, you are passionate in helping others, and yes, somewhere in you there is capability for calculated, uncaring behaviour.

    They are representing the ends of the scale of your behaviour in life, and they were there to show you those extremities - for you to choose your path.

    Choose wisely

  • You never know what else goes on in Ethan’s life. He’s probably paying the price for his actions, if he isn’t sooner or later Ethan will. You reap what you sow.

  • Great story and very well written.

  • Very good story,it really motivates me and wakes me up from from things for granted.It touches my heart and your story make me a diffrent person now.

  • love it, love it, love it! Marc and Angel, you sure are making a positive impact on people’s lives. I can say that for sure, because I am one of those who feels a little more positive, a little more happier, a little more inspired after reading to some of your posts!

  • A sad lonely guy
    May 15th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Reading this post i really felt that life is not what we really think to be.Without knowing my personal interest, my teachers and families focused me to read science at college but i wasnt interested at it.I wanted to be a poet and a writer and still i am into it.i left my science study at college.i failed board exams.i lost my two years.but still i m reading from the same class the subject that i wanted to choose. but its too late for me.my friends are reading engeneering,doctor,banking but i m at the same positon.sometime i get very much frustrated.i feel like i should die but i m symphatising my heart.one day i will be the person i want.i dont have many friends and i have lose my confidence.Now i cudnt meet my friends who have seperated from my school 4 years ago.The interesting thing is that i dont have my Fb id.i hate fb.i am trying to live my life in better way.

  • Nice! liked it very much.

  • From this post I understand that life is a miracle of god…

    Great perspective. I never thought about it like this before.

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