We are human, which means we are mortal. We know this, of course, but I find that many of us live our daily lives as if we will live forever. We put off things we’ve always wanted to do “for another day.” We postpone that trip or vacation we’ve been yearning to take because, well, we just don’t have the time or money. We let arguments go unmended, and frayed relationships remain unrepaired.

And then, a crisis comes along and life seems to take us by the shoulders and give us a good shake as if to say, “Wake up. Live your life as fully as you can now, each day, because you do not have forever.”

I do not believe that those of us living can possibly comprehend the mystery of death, nor do I believe we are meant to. As much as we may want to when we lose someone we love dearly to death, we cannot cross that veil. For we are the “quick,” not the dead, and we are meant to make the most of the precious time we have on this wonderful earth right here, right now.

Ironically, I find that keeping a conscious awareness of the reality of death with me, helps me to live my life to a fuller degree. I learned a long time ago to awaken each morning and whisper a prayer of gratefulness that I can say hello to a new day. I ask that I bring to this day the fullest measure of my talents and my best efforts.

Some are given just a short time to grace those who love them with their presence on this planet, while others are blessed with long, healthy lives. Most of us, I would guess, fall somewhere in between. But the fact remains that no one is given a “marker” by which to gauge the sand left in their personal hourglass.

It can be a balancing act between an awareness of living life to the fullest or feeling stressed by a lack of time — to blend the setting of goals and deadlines with the joy of watching the clouds roll by or turning off the cell phone and taking a stroll in the park.

How can we live more consciously? We can be kind. We can be aware of those who have less. We can give generously of our time through volunteerism in our community. We can be well-mannered. We can stand up in the face of injustice. We can do those things that we’ve put off and have always wanted to do. We can take care of ourselves and those we love.

And if we do these things, when the time comes to “shuffle off this mortal coil,” we will know that we have, indeed, wrung the moments from each day and treated this life as the priceless gift that it is.

— Author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. Read more of her columns at bit.ly/adtssmm. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at susannewebsite@olypen.com.