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July 27, 2013

Teenhood Today: It's what you do, not what you have

By Miriam Thurber
The Daily Star

---- — If you had one more year left to live, what would you do with it? 

I know, I know, you’ve probably heard this before and are tired of answering with “Climb Mount Everest, visit the Colosseum in Rome, and eat a 25,000-pound marshmallow dipped in raspberry-flavored liquid sugar,” but think about it anyway. In all honesty, if you only had one year to live, what would you do with it?

As I’m writing this, our friends from Seattle are visiting and we were talking about his job. He works as a chaplain for Hospice, so he deals with this question on a daily basis. He made the comment that when people know they’re dying, they never talk about the material things they wish they had bought.

He has yet to have someone dramatically look into the distance and talk about the upgrade on the phone they wish they had gotten, the sports car they regret leaving on the car lot, the ruby salt shakers they have wanted since childhood but never taken the plunge to buy. That just doesn’t happen. The regrets are those of opportunities missed, people ignored and dreams not attempted to achieve.

So what I’m saying is, like Mr. McGraw said in his song, we need to live life like we’re dying. One of my dreams in life is to visit every country in the world before I die. I know it’s a big goal, but I’ve already gotten 14 under my belt. I know that’s still a long way off from the 196 or so countries in the world, but it’s a start. 

I know that a lot of who I am today comes from the things I’ve learned on my travels. I know that if on my deathbed I still only have those 14 countries, that will be something I regret. I will regret not having tried harder to visit more places.

Now, some of you may not like to travel, and that’s perfectly fine. Chances are, you have other goals in life. 

Since I was younger I’ve had it in my mind that I would have a book published and a CD recorded by the time I graduated high school. Now, with only two more years left, this looks a little on the impossible side. But at least I’m trying. 

I’ve finished parts of my book and written enough songs to create an album. I’m taking steps to make these goals happen, so even if I don’t achieve them, at least I’m content in my mind to know that I gave it everything I had and tried to make it happen. I think that’s the biggest thing. Too often to we set goals and have dreams, only to watch them blow away in the winds of time. I think we do this because we assume we have our entire lives ahead of us. But do we?

If you only had one more year left to live, what would you do with it?

Miriam A. Thurber is a rising junior at Unatego Central School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at