I watched How I Met Your Mother a few weeks ago (my senior year roommate got me hooked on the show through the NPH connection). It was an emotional episode — Marshall is at his dad’s funeral, and he’s really having a hard time with the triviality of his father’s last words to him.
It just made me think: I hardly ever remember the last thing someone has said to me. I don’t know if I’d be able to recall the specific last conversation I had with someone close to me. It’s not that I don’t remember or care about the conversations; it’s just that . . . my grasp of time and sequence of events gets a little fuzzy at times. In a way, as the characters point out in attempts to make Marshall feel better, it doesn’t really matter — what matters is the overall time you’ve had, not just the last few words. Still, though, it makes me sort of want to make certain that the last words I say to my loved ones — and the last ones I hear — matter. Let the last words be “I love you.” It’s easier on the phone than in person, I think — easier to end a phone conversation with “love you” than to say it as you run out the door to the grocery store or part ways after a party . It’s also easier to control what our last words are than what someone else says.
I was talking with some friends the other day about John Lennon‘s song “Imagine” — “Imagine all the people / Living for today.” What would it be like if people actually lived for today? Obviously, if it were taken literally, it would be chaotic (and reminds me of the fable about the grasshopper who didn’t set anything aside for the winter). But in a larger sense, what would it be like if we really lived in the moment? If we were more focused on how our lives are now, not just saving up for the some indeterminate future?
Applying that idea to the episode, how would it change our conversations if we were aware that conversation we have with someone might be our last? Would it change our arguments, if we recognized that what we were saying might be our last chance to say anything? Would we take advantage of the time we have to tell people what they mean to us? So often, we refrain from saying things that matter because we’re upset, or because we think it’ll make us seem foolish, or because we assume there will be a better time later. But maybe there isn’t a better time. Maybe the time is now.