One of my favorite poets and meditational writers, Mark Nepo, realized after his experiences with cancer that he approaches time with those he meets in a different way these days. Now he asks himself, "If I only have this time on Earth with this person, if I may never see them again, what is it I want or need to ask, to know? What is it I want or need to say?"
I've given a good deal of thought to his remarks because I notice that, in our busy lives, we often rush through our conversations with others with dozens of other things on our minds—often thinking ahead to the next six or eight things on our to-do list. But each exchange is important. Each bit of communication has the potential for insight, growth and deeper relationship. What might I learn if I really take time to be with the person who's right in front of me? What do I want to ask? What do I want to say?
We don't know whether we'll have tomorrow or the next day or the next. We have this moment right now. We have this person who's right in front of us now. We don't know whether we'll ever see that person again.
Such an approach is not meant to be morbid or depressing. It's meant to make the most of each moment, each exchange. It's how we truly show up in our lives. Each interaction is filled with possibilities. Show up with curiosity and openness.