My days are numbered, and I don’t know that number. I can never know that number for certain.
Yet, it often makes a big difference if we think we know that number. For instance, our doctor may tell us we have only six months to live, and we plunge into despair.
When that happens, it is a clear indication that we haven’t taken our mortality seriously. We haven’t acknowledged to ourselves that our days are numbered. We haven’t experienced it as real. It only becomes real when we think we know that number, for one reason or another. Usually because our doctor tells us, or we are getting so old that it is a good statistical chance we won’t live much longer. (Also, it shows that we don’t take seriously that we really don’t know the number, whether we have a doctor that tells us a number or not.)
So before I think I know the number, I can imagine – as vividly as I can – that I know the number. I can imagine that I know for certain that I will die in one year, one month, one day, one minute, one second. Feel it. Take it in. See how my view reorganize. What happens to my priorities. What happens to my identification with this body.
It won’t be as real as if my doctor tells me a number, but it can still be very helpful.