In my pre-blog life I was a serial email forwarder, an affliction which had a few stages to it. (Did anyone else go through these or was it just me?)
1) There was that heady flush of realization as I started receiving my first forwards. Whoa! Did you see all the information and creativity just floating around out there?! Stuff that I’d no idea existed and no access to before my first email account. At this point I knew…I just knew…I had to pass it all along.
2) Followed by the scary warning email phase. (Predators in mall parking lots, governments publishing cell phone numbers to marketers, flashing headlights gang initiations…oh my!!) I passed these on because I cared dammit. I cared!
4) After which I turned to the jokes and inspiration lists…with one caveat. I would not, not, forward chain emails. The “send this to ten people and something amazing (or terrible) will happen” type. These things are totally passive aggressive and, really, I must draw the line at guilt.
5) Then came Videos.
6) After which I reached the Links stage, the final phase. This was the point at which I’d grown from a forwarding sapling to a mature tree, achieving maximum speed and efficiency. I discovered I could litter the inbox of everyone I knew with simple URLs, like seeds, that they could then open and read for themselves. (Or not. Usually not.)
I was completely out of hand and knew I needed intervention. So when a professional contact suggested I start a blog, the idea fell on fertile ground. (I guess this is also the creation story of how The Odd and Unmentionable came into being…The Odd Book of Genesis.) And it worked. I had a new focus and my forwarding days came to an abrupt and blessed end.
But wait. Did they? Have I really stopped passing along ideas, humor, creativity, and information or have I now reached the most respectable (and respectful) phase of this impulse?
As I was preparing today’s post I realized I’m still forwarding other people’s ideas and creativity in various blog posts, only now I’m 1) doing it with full acknowledgement and links back to the source, and 2) placing it into the public arena where the horse can drink at will (rather than bombarding anyone foolish enough to trust me with their email address.)
I guess that ole’ desire to share just won’t be denied. Nor should it be of course. I shudder to imagine a world where we were all gagged and no longer able to trade insights. That would be hell.
So, for today’s forward, here’s a moving and provocative piece I found blog-forwarded over at Rangewriter. (Linda covers a broad range of topics. The common thread to all her posts is the consistently thoughtful, beautiful writing. Wander her blog if you get a chance.)
Because her post was perfect just the way it was, I lifted the whole post…with her permission…and re-posted (i.e. forwarded) it here. So, from Bronnie to Bill to Linda to me to you:
I came across the following essay on A Dying Man’s Daily Journal. (Quick editor’s note: Another amazing blog. Worth checking out.) He had reposted it from an email he recieved. It is so perfect and so central to what I believe, that I want to share it and pass the word. Thank you, Bill.
By Bronnie Ware
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
Thanks to everyone involved in this chain of insights, especially those who were dying.
copyright Dia Osborn 2011