"But a Short Time to Live" was written by Serg't Leslie Coulson, whose "little hour" came to an end at Arras, in France, October 7, 1916:
OUR little hour,—how swift it flies
When poppies flare and lilies smile;
How soon the fleeting minute dies,
Leaving us but a little while
To dream our dream, to sing our song, 5
To pick the fruit, to pluck the flower,
The Gods—They do not give us long,—
One little hour.
Our little hour,—how short it is
When Love with dew-eyed loveliness 10
Raises her lips for ours to kiss
And dies within our first caress.
Youth flickers out like wind-blown flame,
Sweets of to-day to-morrow sour,
For Time and Death, relentless, claim 15
Our little hour.
Our little hour,—how short a time
To wage our wars, to fan our hates,
To take our fill of armoured crime,
To troop our banners, storm the gates. 20
Blood on the sword, our eyes blood-red,
Blind in our puny reign of power,
Do we forget how soon is sped
Our little hour?
Our little hour,—how soon it dies: 25
How short a time to tell our beads,
To chant our feeble Litanies,
To think sweet thoughts, to do good deeds.
The altar lights grow pale and dim,
The bells hang silent in the tower— 30
So passes with the dying hymn
Our little hour.
Katherine Mansfield Murry" (14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923)
"Why am I troubled evrey single day of my life by the nearness of death and its inevitability? I am really diseased on that point.
"To-night, when the evening-star shone through the side-window and the mountains were so lovely, I sat there thinking of death. Of all there was to do - of Life, which is so lovely -- and of the fact that my body is a prison. But this state of mind is evil. It is only by acknowledging that I, being what I am, had to suffer this in order to do the work I am here to perform. It is only by acknowledging it, by being thankful that I shall recover."
"What if you had only a few days to live?"
"Suddenly everything comes into view and you are stabbed with the fear of leaving everything you’ve grown up with, people you’ve come to love along the way, an existence you were so fond off but now you cant think of anything else but silently listen to the rain. Surprisingly you find solace in the soothing beat and long to walk out of the house and stand in the rain and let the water wash away this disease that is hungrily taking your life."
"In this stage you choose to be happy. Desperately trying to believe that this state of mind will perhaps by a stroke of luck rid you off the pain and things will go back to normal, normal meaning the mundane life; the old grumpy office chair, the complaining parents, the silly friends, the life you got carried away by, that you took it for granted."
"You try to close your eyes for awhile, hoping that the diagnosis by the doctor was just a bad dream and feel that once you open your eyes you will wake up to feeling foolish, of suddenly being so philosophical and serious and flippantly joke about it with friends."
"Yes, this is a time when you desperately cling to all sorts of thoughts and scenarios, when you feel the need to remember every moment in your life, before you stop remembering. You remember your mom’s lovely garden of tulips, you see yourself being chased around the fish pond by your brother and clumsily falling down and scraping your knee. You remember the ghost stories your grandfather used to tell with such fervor and you can still feel the cold chill run down your spine. You remember the picnics with your family and clearly see your father casting his fishing rod in the river, where after a while you see a frantic trout caught on the hook …you are reminded of death and forget this memory instantly. You remember being the subject of complaint amongst teachers and see that annoyed look on your mom’s face after school…it’s a miracle how you turned to be an ace in college. You remember not belonging on either side of your parent’s family, and when growing up you always wondered why you spoke fluent English while your friends could speak fluent Dzongkha. You remember your first crush and blush at the sight of him catching you with a weak knee. You remember your crazy friends from school and the hilarious punishments you all got from the Biology teacher for bunking classes. You remember the first party you went to and the feeling of embarrassment, when your parents came to pick you up, when the party hadn’t even started. Memories are now rapturously flooding, and the streaming hot tears blurs remembering and slowly brings me to awareness, brings me to “now”.
"In death you find the reason to live, and until that fateful day comes you make sure you live the remaining days in happiness."
"Ask yourself this: if you suddenly found out you only had 6 months to live (for whatever reason), would the thing in front of you matter to you?"
"Would those 20 emails waiting for a response matter? Would the paperwork waiting to be processed matter? Would the work you’re doing matter? Would the meetings you’re supposed to have matter? Would a big car and nice house and high-paying job and cool computer and mobile device and nice shoes and clothes matter?"
"I’m not saying they wouldn’t matter … but it’s important to ask yourself if they would."
"What would matter to you?
"For many of us, it’s the loved ones in our lives. If we don’t have loved ones … maybe it’s time we started figuring out why, and addressing that. Maybe we haven’t made time for others, for getting out and meeting others and helping others and being compassionate and passionate about others. Maybe we have shut ourselves in somehow. Or maybe we do have loved ones in our lives, but we don’t seem to have the time we want to spend with them."
When was the last time you told someone that you care, or loved them? Spent good quality time with them, being in the moment?
For many of us, doing deeds that matters … would matter. That might mean helping others, or making a vital contribution to society, or creating something brilliant and inspiring, or expressing ourselves somehow. It’s not recognition, prestige or the money that matters, but the impact of a good work. Are you doing work that matters?
For many of us, experiencing life would matter — really being in the moment, finding passion in our lives, seeing the world and traveling, or just seeing the world that’s around us right now, being with great people, doing amazing things, eating amazing food, playing.
These are just a few ideas … but what would matter to you?
I highly recommend that you spend at least a little time now, and regularly, thinking about this question … figuring out what really matters … and living a life that shows this.
One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.
Carl G Jung