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What to Do When You Only Have A Year to Live - Kelly N Patterson

Posted 6/11/2011 12:00:00 AM By Kelly Patterson
Kelly Patterson
What to Do When You Only Have A Year to Live By Kelly N Patterson

365 days left.  Saunter through the hermetically sealed, cardboard walls of the doctor’s lobby and just as you reach the door, scream:  “I’m free!  I’m totally free!”  Before you have the opportunity to see the glacierized faces of shock, run down the hall yelping.  No, yawping-- a la Walt Whitman style. 

Now, what are you going to do the next 365 days?!  First, make a contract with yourself: the next 365 days, you will be 100% yourself (no clauses, no footnotes, all previous amendments defunct.)  Here is a monthly planner to assist you over the next year. 

MONTH 1: Attach all bras or restricting under-garments to fireworks (you can get these year-round in North Carolina), and by the light of our lunar satellite, “ooh” and “ahh” at Victoria’s Secret exploding.  Make sure to go swimming in the buff at least once this month, preferably at night. 

MONTH 2: Write love letters to every individual you can possibly reach who has made you smile.  For example, family members, friends, complete strangers, Dave Chappelle, etc.  Sell everything!  (Except items of sentimental value.)  Purchase that around the world ticket.  Your first stop should be the Trobriand Islands (in the South Pacific) where you can learn how to use the yo-yo correctly.  On the islands, you must sip pomegranate margaritas, converse with neighborly dolphins, and sing loudly.  Don’t worry if your sound waves are not pleasant to the human ear; the dolphins never complain. 

MONTH 3: Take a cruise from the Trobriand Islands to the Orient.  If it rains, dance on the deck until the clouds are wrung out.  When you spot a highly endangered species of physically god-like human (male or female—whatever your preference), pounce on them like Rhett grabbed Scarlet and kiss them until they need more oxygen.  Then say, “Oh, I thought you were someone else!”  See if they follow.  Make sure to go back to your cruise cabin and listen to Tchaikvosky’s symphony "1812" as loud as possible. 

MONTH 4: When you arrive in Japan, wear only kimonos, eat authentic sushi (try the blowfish— what do you have to lose?), attend a formal Japanese tea ceremony, and visit at least one Buddhist temple.  Whatever you do, don’t point your toes at the Buddha statue; this is a serious insult.  Go to Beijing and attend dawn T’ai Chi Chuan meditations daily.  If you have a partner, make love on the Great Wall.  If you don’t have a partner, find one (there are a lot of people to choose from in China!) 

MONTH 5: Motorcycle to India.  Ride an elephant in Calcutta just to visit Mother Theresa’s hospice.  Offer a service to the hospice patients, any service will do: hair cutting, cleaning, cooking, play chess, massage, whatever you can do for 1 week (at least.)  Find the Dalai Lama and kiss his hand.  From India, take a dhow across the Indian Ocean to South Africa.  Make a beach bonfire in St. Lucia and dance to traditional Zulu drums until dawn.  Insist on meeting Nelson Mandela or Bishop Tutu for tea. 

MONTH 6: Fly to Europe.  Smoke cigarettes in the lavatory.  Sing “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie” on the flight attendant intercom.  See if that floatation device really works.  Ski on the Alps and make sure you have satin sheets, a fireplace, and French vintages every night.  Eat Brie, fresh baked bread, and as much chocolate as you can digest. 

MONTH 7: Go to Greece to learn a few chords from a philosophizing nomad (preferably named Nikos.)  Jet ski around the coral reef of Cyprus, only stopping to snorkel.  At dusk, gulp ouzo, nibble on grape leaves, and read poetry by Sappho to a stranger.

MONTH 8: From Greece, fly to Belize to meet Rosa Arvigo’s Shaman.  Get his blessing and then go camping in the haunted rainforest.  Fly to Brazil for a 2-week rafting tour of the Amazon and make sure to lick one of those hallucinogenic frogs. 

MONTH 9: Now you are ready for backpacking through Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru.  When people ask you what you do for a living, tell them you are a National Geographic photographer.  You must see Manchu Pinchu. 

MONTH 10: Time to go to the States.  Gather 6 of your dearest friends, rent a colossal recreational vehicle, and wander around America.  Restrain from using a map and try not to ask for directions; just follow black asphalt.  If it is the right season, you can catch a final Mardi Gras in New Orleans, attend Burning Man Festival in Nevada, or sand-surf in West Texas.  Make sure to chase at least one tornado.  Visit an American Indian Reservation, stop at South of the Border (campy truck stop haven between the Carolinas), eat all the junk food you can stomach, and try out all the local bars. 

MONTH 11: Throw your last family reunion.  Relinquish what is left of your earthly possessions, stocks, assets, etc. with personalized blessings (or donate to your favorite charities.)  Make sure to be generous with kisses, hugs, I-Love-You’s, useless stories, laughing, and water-gun fights.  Make certain your whole family attends. 

MONTH 12: Have sex 12 times a day with your significant other.  Eat your favorite meals while watching your favorite films.  Wake up early enough to see every sunrise and find a peaceful spot to absorb every sunset.  You should be tired by now.  You should be ready for your final exit.  The last sunless sky, just sit or talk with your greatest love (lover, child, dog, doesn’t matter.)  Fall asleep listening to your favorite music.  Finally, eternal sleep.   

 Now, write your own!  And start today!   




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