You have a terminal condition. Now what?

You’ve just been diagnosed with a terminal condition. I’ve just diagnosed you.

I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I have no knowledge of your medical history, and possess only a scant understanding of my own, yet I know this: You’re going to die. You might have six months or six hundred, I’m not sure. So what do you do with the time you have left?

That’s the question I struggle with, not just at this moment, but continually. Continuously, really. Yet, for all the reflection, as the sun sets on each day I’m stuck for a satisfactory answer.

I’m not passing this off as an original concept. Recently, an episode of one of my favorite television shows posited correctly that “each life comes with a death sentence.” That message has been underscored in books ranging from the supernatural fiction genre to self-help tomes to, I’m certain, a surfeit of “classics,” yet the answer on how to translate this truth into important action eludes me.

In addition to struggling to pay bills, fretting about a lack of adequate retirement savings and being vexed by brand-new yet still somehow out-of-round tires, I’m troubled by my own ability to “get on with it.” At this age, I believe I should have figured things out by now, right?

I mourn the money, education and time I’ve squandered, but mourning has to be restricted to a defined period. It can’t last forever. Each day you, and certainly I, must resolve to spend the majority — if not the entirety — of our days doing only those things that make us the people we want to become. You’ve got to fight fear, indolence and a legacy of self-defeating habits and, to quote John Paul Jones, I have not yet begun to fight.

But our time on this planet is coming to an end. We’ve just been diagnosed with a terminal condition.

Now what?