the road less traveled

What would you do if you were told that you had one week to live? What would you change? The film I watched last night is based on this very question. If faced with the possibility of death, what would you do?

The movie is about an ordinary man in his mid twenties who is diagnosed with cancer. His cancer has a survival rate of 10%. For me, the plot began to unfold as the main character, Ben Tyler, began to voice the immediate urges brought on by his inevitable fate. It seems that when you’re 90% dead, your perspective changes. A series of random events help Ben to decide that a spontaneous road trip out West (across Canada) is what he needs to experience before he’s ready to become a cancer patient. The character’s process of waking up from his “safe” daze was a reaction to the simple fear of becoming a patient. Having set himself up with a safe & comfortable life, it seemed like the character dreaded sharing a hospital bed with the life he owned. The trip seemed to have been the character’s first rebellious act in years. Over the course of his trip, you slowly begin to see Ben untangle himself of all the “comfort zones” or invisible bars that ran his life. He begins to make his life about chasing after “moments”, attempting to live out a different life in each of his final days.

I was delighted to find an unexpected twist at the end of the movie. I pressed myself to think… what would I do? What would I change about my life? What book would I write? Where would I go? Who would I take? What would I dance to? What wants would trump my fears? What shackles would I drop?

What would I do? I would write. Last night, I remembered when I first became aware of that. Two summers ago, I was incredibly frustrated with my life and someone asked, “If you could do anything and not have to worry about money, what would you do?” I said, “I would write.” The answer just jumped out as if my heart finally had the chance to speak the truth without the “feasible” side-notes my mind was always too ready to include. I remember being a little startled. I remember thinking… damn, that was ballsy. That realization started a fire in me that has been impossible to put out. Now, the passion that goes into my writing tends to seep into my life. My once safe, dull life has slowly been infected by the idea that “wanting more” is not only possible, but necessary. It comforts me to know that although it’s not reasonable to quit my job and run off to a far off land to write, I would write. So what matters is that I am writing today. The mistake would be in waiting for a trip to do it.

“When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold onto them. They are the lifeboats for the darker times. When the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely lucid. So the question becomes or should have been all along, what would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live? What lifeboat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?” 

Taken from final scene in One Week

Do you live a life worth dying for? Is your life made up of moments that you’ll cherish forever? If you only had a week to live, would you keep this life you currently own? Or would you change it? What would you do? What would you want to feel? Who would you want to be? What would you let go of? What questions would you ask? Who would you try to sleep with? Who would you pray to? What answers would you travel the world for before feeling ready to lie down?

I attempted to diagnose my life this morning as best I could while I was on my way to work. There is an effort in making sure that my life is the closet it can be to that “one week” scenario while staying functional. There is so much I need to let go of and more I need to create. The truth is that not all of us get the heads up to think about this before it’s too late.

A final quote from the movie: Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. Thomas Edison

Make this week count- just in case.  Your road is waiting…


About Antonella Saravia

Antonella is a freelance writer. Graduated from Purdue University, Antonella is based out of New York City and Nicaragua, where she was raised. Follow her via Twitter @tonesaravia & Instagram via @tsaravia.


  1. I really enjoyed your post. Your words “It comforts me to know that although it’s not reasonable to quit my job and run off to a far off land to write, I would write. So what matters is that I am writing today. The mistake would be in waiting for a trip to do it.” really connected with me. I would love to watch that movie as well. I also love to write and I know that is how I would want to spend my last days on this earth. I too am going to try to write somthing everyday. Thanks for the inspiration.

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