As I was working the other night, I listened to Nickelback’s “If Today Was Your Last Day” and felt bothered. I feel bothered every time I listen to this song, and I was finally able to put my finger on why.
The song itself is good and I like it. I like the music and rhythm, the sound of the singer’s voice, and the song’s message. One of the first lines of the song I concur with deeply: “each day’s a gift and not a given right”. But every time I hear the chorus, something pokes me.
If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
If today was your last day.
Last weekend my family said goodbye to a dear uncle, so thoughts of my last day haven’t been too far from my mind. If my motivation for living a moral, ethical, truly good life comes from not knowing how much longer I’m going to walk this earth, I think my efforts are doomed from the start.
It’s because I too easily forget my mortality. I’m not sure if this is a sign of our times, a basic human trait, or a cultural shortcoming, but I have an overall feeling of immortality. I think I stand a better chance of becoming more loving, wise, and faithful if I focus instead on becoming those things for their own worth, for the value they have today. After all, Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). I don’t read, “You must do the good stuff now because one day you’ll be dead.”
Perhaps I just respond better to positive motivators (life now) than negative ones (death to come).
So what’s your motivation for living a “good” life? What kind of person do you hope to be and why?