Have you ever heard the expression “Life is uncertain — eat dessert first?”

Aside from the issue of unneeded calories contained in rich and creamy deserts, this expression does make some sense to me. Let’s examine it a little by removing it from its obvious caloric problems.

If you are reading this column, you are probably alive. I often tell people the first thing I do in the morning is to read the obituaries in the paper. If my name isn’t there, I get out of bed.

I hope you agree with me that none of us knows when our obituaries will appear in the paper. I also believe none of us really wants to know the exact date it will occur. If some health care provider tells you that you have a specific amount of time remaining to live, I believe it is best to disregard that information. Nobody can make that prediction with accuracy, and innumerable people can tell you stories such as “my doctor told me I had only six months to live and that was three years ago.”

Now, if you are 20 years old and think you are invincible, none of this is important to you. But, if you reach the status of senior citizen it is very important to you and becomes increasingly important each and every day.

Where am I going with this? In two directions:

First, it is essential that you maintain all your affairs in order. Please consider your loved ones, who hopefully will be distraught at their loss of you. One of the best things you can do now, before you go, is to have as much of your “house in order” as you can.

But, secondly, are you and will you continue to make each and every day you remain on this planet valuable to you.

Of course, the key word here is “valuable.” I suspect many of you have seen the movie “The Bucket List.” This is a perfect example of the fact that different activities are important to different individuals. I really have no need to experience sky diving, but I would really enjoy a “hole-in-one” on the golf course. I suppose I would like to create world peace, but I have to be realistic, so I would like to settle for a peaceful and loving family. By the way, if everyone did that, it would go a long way toward world peace.

So, I suggest you take some time to determine exactly what your ideal life, for the rest of it, would look like. There is nothing wrong with actually making a written list.

Then, make a plan to fulfill your goals. Please remember that since you don’t know how long you will have nor have the physical or mental capacity to fulfill the goals, get started right away.

If you find that your family, friends or anyone else takes exception to your new attitudes and activities, you should try to explain the new you. But, remember, these are your goals, on your dime and time.

These words do not give you permission to go out and rob a bank because it was something you always you wanted to do. And, other nefarious schemes are also off limits. I am hoping you take the high road and try to fulfill the positive, uplifting, feel-good goals that you want and deserve.

Finally, remember, eating dessert first could easily be counted as one of these.

Dr. Michael M. Warren is Ashbel Smith professor of surgery at University of Texas Medical Branch Division of Urology. Write him at michael.warren@galvnews.com.

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