I don’t know about your family, but ours found we really needed to get out of town this summer for a change of scenery. Not necessarily easy to do since a large portion of the world has been off limits and/or was implementing strict policies that would make any trip, if taken, less enjoyable or relaxing.
Our desire for some kind of adventure and to see new landscape led Tom and I to decide to take the kids to Broken Bow. Though we’ve visited a few times already, it was far enough away to call a trip and yet close enough to be sure the time we did spend getting away would not be taken up by the drive. Broken Bow gave us the chance to stay in a beautiful cabin, to take in some hiking and go tubing on the lake, and to have some much-needed space to breathe.
Another reason I love traveling is that it allows me to pick up a book. Life can get so busy doing all the things the result is my not getting as much time as I’d like to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes. Taking a road trip is a welcome opportunity to read to escape and learn something new. Personally, I only read two types of books…those on parenting and those that inspire me to become a better human being in some way. My choice for our trip to Oklahoma didn’t disappoint, what I learned from the 300 pages has literally changed my life, so much so that I thought it worth sharing in my column this month.
I chose a book that was recommended through a podcast I listened to; it’s written by an Australian woman who refers to herself as a “carer” (she works in hospice). The pages are FULL of stories that stem from her twenty years of taking care of others while in their final months or days of life. Published in 2019, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware is certainly a life-changer if you are willing to listen and implement her message.
Bronnie has experience taking care of people of all ages as they pass on and her story sharing sheds light on some basic truths I think we’d all agree drive our lives but, in the end, don’t really matter much at all. I bet you can probably guess some of the most common regrets people have at the end of their lives.
Things like wishing we hadn’t worked so hard or at a job that was unfulfilling, wishing we’d have been able to express our feelings better and more often to those who really mattered in our lives, and wishing we’d have stayed in better in touch with friends or family members.
But the one that really struck me the most, the one that’s driving the way I intend to live the rest of whatever there is to my own life, is the first regret she shares which is wishing to have lived a life true to yourself.
How often do we do or say things that go against what deep down we want or need, in order to be who someone else (spouse, child, parent, coworker, friend) needs us to be? How often do we abandon ourselves in an effort to meet the expectations of those we love the most? Of course, when we are in relationship with other people there are going to be times when we make a choice in the name of compromise or the greater good. However, when most of our life becomes being what everyone else needs you to be, rather than who you truly are, that is when it becomes a problem, or a regret as was made the case by many souls in Ware’s book.
Over the years I’ve counseled women who have lost their sense of self and had to rediscover their purpose is as a result of becoming too deeply invested in their parenting and in partnerships. The message our culture sends women doesn’t help because it implies that to be seen as successful, they’re to have it all together, the home/marriage/parenting/career, and this unrealistic picture often comes at a high personal price.
At the end of your life, if you weren’t really YOU…what was the point?!
Finding yourself and becoming intentional as to how you want to show up in the world can have an effect on those around you, it may threaten their identity and result in their needing to grow themselves as well.
“The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” is not for the faint of heart, but it is for those who are looking to add meaning to an unsettling year by having the courage to look inward so that when those final days arrive there are no regrets.