My daughter-in-law recently told me about an NPR story which sparked the idea for this column. The noted Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman was asked what one message he would pass along to future beings if the world blew up. He said he would tell them that everything is composed of atoms.

Audience members were asked what message they would send along. One person’s message was, “Everyone is going to die.” I prefer that answer to Richard Feynman’s.

Shortly after I heard about the NPR story, I learned that two Bowdoin alumni from my era had just died. An internet search revealed that the average life span of American males is 78.79. I just passed that milestone; from now on every day is a bonus.

I’m just now grasping the implications of the truth that everyone dies, even me. I knew it, but I didn’t really KNOW it. The major message: Why not live life to the fullest while we can.

Why not tell the people who’ve had an impact on your life how much they’ve meant to you?

Why not tell your friends how much you value their friendship?

Why not try to heal rifts with family members before it’s too late?

Why not take the time to appreciate nature, not just the colorful fall leaves but the year-round offerings – the winter snows, the spring blossoms, the summer rains?

Why not read — or reread — some of the classics? I reread “Moby Dick” and read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Middlemarch” this past summer, and I’ve just begun traveling alongside Scarlet O’ Hara in “Gone with the Wind”?

Why not behave the way you want to behave instead of the way you’re expected to behave?

Why not be kinder to yourself? And to others.

Why not scrap your stuff and salve your soul?

Why not celebrate small moments, rather than wait for the next big deal?

Why not engage more with strangers?

Why sweat the small stuff, knowing that almost everything is, in truth, “the small stuff?”

Why not watch less television and take more walks?

Why not try something you’ve never done like sky diving or eating finnan haddie or sleeping until noon?

Why not check on your partner’s moods, rather than your cellphone’s messages?

Why not stop, look, listen, feel?

Why not, in sum, live a little or, more accurately, live a lot?

After all, today is all we have, this moment, this time, this space. To borrow a sports metaphor, let’s leave nothing on the field.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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