I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what I wrote yesterday. About what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life. Especially the no regret part. I said I wanted to live so that I have nothing, no thing, to regret when my time eventually runs out. Thinking about it, there is a number of things I already I know I would regret if I didn’t do them. What if I did all of these for a start?
When I went to that reading yesterday we did a whole lot of mini meditations. One of them was on the thought of death. Or more precisely, what we would do if we knew we only had a short while to live. Say, six months.
I know it’s an old question that has been out there for a long time. A lot of you have probably thought about it. But how many of you, really, did actually act on it?
It’s relatively easy to come up with an answer. In fact, it’s pretty surprising how fast our priorities change when we put ourselves in that situation. Suddenly, a lot of the things that we spend the majority of our time on and worry about don’t matter anymore. And those that we tend to put on the back burner – because they are too uncomfortable, uneasy, scary and make us feel emotionally insecure – suddenly spring into our consciousness. And we instantly know they are the baggage we do not want to carry when we pass.
I guess it’s because we know quite well that money and prestige and fame and beauty, or whatever earthly things might be on our priority lists, are not something we can take with us on that last trip. So all that is left to care about when we know we’re about to die is whether we die in peace or not. Simple as that. And this seems to depend pretty much exclusively on the answer to the question whether we feel we have lived well. To me, that’s very clearly about values, not money. About human connection, not prestige. About following your heart, not measuring yourself against the yardstick of other people’s expectations.
So when I did that meditation yesterday four things instantly sprung to my mind that I know beyond a doubt I would regret if I didn’t do them if I only had six months to live:
- Declutter my guest room and basement – synonymous to letting go of past pain and hurtful memories.
- Visit my father, make him a gift I know he would like, and tell him how I would love our relationship to be.
- Go see my brother and reconcile with him.
- Tell my ex how I still feel about us.
Until a few days ago I felt that the decluttering part was a huge project. I had just started it and was progressing at a painfully slow speed. Now I feel the decluttering is the easy part. A piece of cake, really. If you knew the magnitude of the other ones… There is a whole story behind all of them and it will take me a lot of courage to go through with it.
Apropos courage. This reminds me of two beautiful poems I recently read on Val Boyko’s blog Find Your Middle Ground that I have been following pretty much since the day I’ve started blogging because it’s so uplifting and thoughtful. One poem is on the difference between strength and courage and the other one about shifting from one to the other.
What stuck with me in the first one, especially, was this last verse:
It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.
Which wonderfully complements the other poem that reads:
As a child I put my armor on
I built it so carefully. And before you ask – yes, it still fits like a glove.
Its comfortable enough .. and more so in war zones.
You see, I am strong.
And then one day I realized that it wasn’t my coat at all,
It was the coat of arms of my family.
And I could change it.
I could choose to let go of being strong.
It’s a bit frivolous to cut them into pieces like that, I know. But I didn’t want to copy the whole thing as I feel they are were they belong, on Val’s blog. But I did want to draw your attention to them (they are beautiful, do read them). And remind myself.
Because the difference between just surviving and truly living is what defines a happy life, I feel. The ingredient for the first is strength. I have plenty of that. Maybe too much. What I feel I could use some more of is courage – the main ingredient for the second.
So my bucket list is a reminder of the courage I might want to muster if I really, truly want to live and not just survive. I’m not sure if I will find it within me. And I’m certainly scared about how those encounters might go. After all, I cannot control the outcome. I can only put the best of myself into them and then let the other one do their part, or not.
But I certainly would love to try. Imagine how that would feel? To know you have done everything you knew you had to, without expectation as regards the outcome. Just for your own peace of mind and inner calm. And if it went well, all the better.
If I do, I will let you know. Including more of the stories behind each of the items.
If I don’t, please be gentle with me. Taking down the armor might just take a bit more time than I think. And courage.