On Living, Dying, and the Space In-Between
We’re on a never-ending treasure hunt for the secrets to streamline our journey
I have a lot of questions. And if I start working on them right now, I might get most of them resolved before I die.
But that may not be enough. Because if I don’t find the answer — the one that touches my heart and puts my soul to rest — I might have to start bargaining for a little latitude with the great timekeeper. And I hope he/she is in a good mood.
The truth is we don’t think much about our personal timeline until we’re approaching the final stretch. When we were young, we didn’t pay attention to how quickly the passing days, months, or years went by. In fact, in our hormone-infused adolescence, we were anxious to move ahead with gusto — believing that some well-kept secret waited patiently in a future time and place in our soon-to-be extraordinary lives.
And that spark of motivation, the self-deception, is what propelled us on a daily basis to simply get through the irreplaceable moments until the right scenario — the perfect one — would make an appearance.
For the most part, our elders didn’t reveal everything they knew about what waited in store for us.
Personally, I think they preferred to tolerate our youthful rambunctious and inquisitive nature. Perhaps they hoped our precocious attitudes were contagious and they’d catch a small dose of glee and abandon to bring them back to the naïve mindset of their own early years.
Frankly, I don’t blame them. While it’s easy to glance back on one’s personal past, it’s not always a good idea to believe that another’s future will mirror the same joys, heartache, failures, and successes as ours.
Because the decisions made by others will likely be different along the way — deviations, large or small, that when taken into consideration with changes in societal attitudes and cultural trends, can evolve into circumstances and situations having no familiarity whatsoever with our recollections and experiences.
Still, many of us seek guidance and direction.
We’re on a never-ending treasure hunt for information and details that will allow us to bypass the hurdles and hard work, and streamline our journey to an idyllic destination — whatever that looks like in our own personal vision.
In the meantime, the days, weeks, months, and years tick by unnoticed, while our focus and attention burns a laser-point hole to some future destiny. And if we’re not mindful of our incessant need to mentally leap-frog in time searching for a better life, we may miss out on all the great stuff going on around us.
The point? Rather than living a full and passionate life, engaged in the moment, there may come a time when you may find yourself with hands folded in prayer and eyes tightly closed, begging the God or spirit or universe you subscribe to for another chance to relive all those wasted years you spent determined to believe your current life was crap, and a better one would eventually show up.
As the end approaches — and it will — you’ll ultimately face the fact there are no retakes or repeat performances.
Instead of a treasure chest filled with memories, adventures, love, and gratitude, you may be burdened with the anchors of regret from letting the precious gift of life slip through your fingers, unfulfilled.
In the article Regrets of the Dying, author Bronnie Ware brings this truth home like a spit-laden fast ball. Among the nuggets of wisdom shared in the piece is one we should tell ourselves every day: “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
The good news is you still can, if you really want to. No excuses, no blaming others, no pleas for an exemption of your circumstances. Because most of us, with very little effort, can come up with a truckload of justifications and rationalizations in an attempt to garner sympathy and a reprieve from previous bad decisions.
The truth is within you.
So is happiness. Before you brush off these thoughts and concepts as irrelevant, or start believing it’s too late for you, consider this: You’re alive right now, breathing, eating, sleeping, and reading — all opportunities to search for a sliver of joy and a foundation of possibilities to build on.
The choice is up to you. Bemoan your circumstances and seal your miserable fate, or grab a shovel and and flashlight and start looking for gold.
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