12/21/2012 11:14 am ET Updated Feb 19, 2013

What If 8 Were All You Had?

What if today really was the last day on Earth? What if the world were to come to semi-expected end? Sorry, I couldn't resist; but seriously, what if you had one day left on Earth? How would you spend your last few moments on this big, blue marble? More specifically, how would you spend your last eight minutes? Eight minutes is a theme with us at What If...? for many reasons.

For example, screenwriters know the average moviegoer's attention span is 10 minutes long. So the first 10 pages of a screenplay (one page equaling roughly one minute of screentime) are written specifically to grab (and hold) a viewer's attention. This is why the first 10 minutes of most movies you watch may feel like a mini-movie and, often times, have little to do with anything else in the film. James Bond flicks are perfect examples of this. Thus, if attention spans run 10 minutes, we don't have to worry about losing anyone at eight; and they walk away with a couple minutes to fill in for themselves. Another reason we're big on eight minutes is that it is roughly the same amount of time it takes the Sun's light to reach the surface of the Earth. If nothing else, What If...? should be enlightening. Lastly, we just like the look of eight: infinity turned up, two equal worlds coexisting, one on top of the other. What If...? hopes to turn worlds upside down, and then back up again. Yeah, eight is pretty cool.

But back to the 22nd of December. What if you wake up to see that life will keep going on? What if you still took eight minutes out of every day to reflect, live, and connect with others as if they were your last eight minutes on Earth? Who would you seek out? What would you say to them? What would you try to accomplish in those final minutes? Would you pause to breathe? Or rush to make sure your existence had meaning? Eight minutes is long enough to dip your toes into a thought, action, or reflection, but not too long to get bogged down or distracted from your other daily activities. It also fits conveniently under our 10 minute attention span ceiling so, if nothing else, you won't get bored. What is there to lose? Think about the insights you might gain. My guess is, living eight minutes as if they were your last will shine some unexpected light on how satisfying your life has been. In addition, it might also open you up to some valuable ideas and avenues to chase down in order to make your life even more fulfilling. Don't just live those "final" eight minutes, take note. Discover what you're satisfied with and what you're rushing to do. You might be surprised what is revealed when you're up against the ultimate deadline. So, what if you took eight minutes a day to live as if they were your last? How will you spend your final moment on Earth? And don't worry, if you weren't satisfied, you can try it again tomorrow.

What if the world didn't end? Then we've got our work cut out. Luckily, the collaborators behind What If...? have created a conference to carry us through the next year and beyond. March 1 & 2, 2013 Westminster College and the University of Missouri will host the What If...? Conference. To solve problems personal and galactic, we have to ask questions of all sizes. But we need your help. We're growing our community of global question askers and change seekers in every way we can, so even if you can't attend, you can still contribute by asking questions, sharing your thoughts, and using what you learn to change the world, one question at a time.