“Tell me, what is is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I absolutely love this line from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day. And it still has the power to occasionally stop me in my tracks.
We only have this one physical life.
If yours ended tomorrow, would you be happy with how you’d lived it?
- Does your work fulfil you?
- Do you love where you live?
- What relationships in your life are important to you?
- And are you satisfied with the amount and quality of time that you spend with those people?
- Have you accomplished your goals and dreams?
- Are you happy with how you show up in the world?
As you read through those questions, likely answering them in your mind as you went (because that’s how the brain rolls!) – how did your answers make you feel?
Were you uplifted? Reflecting on how happy and content you are in all areas of your life?
Or, did you find yourself answering ‘No’ or feeling a sense of lack or unfulfillment with any of them?
As the picture on my bookshelf in my office states:
Take chances and only regret the things you didn’t do
When I reflect back over my (ahem, 21+ years of) life, I realise that this has been an automatic theme to most of my life. Whether it’s as trivial as buying that dress in the shop I loved as soon as I saw it, to the slightly crazier skydive to celebrate my 40th birthday, or deciding to leave my career with the NHS and packing up my house to live on the other side of the world in New Zealand, and see what happened – I’ve always been a ‘if it feels right, do it!’ kinda gal!
Now, some may say this is just FOMO and yes, there probably has been an element of that to some decisions! However, I can honestly say that I’ve always been grateful for jumping at an opportunity, for making that decision and going for something rather than letting it pass me by. Because whether it has worked out or not, at least I tried – and benefited from the experience in some way!
And as we know, the Universe often has little lessons in things for us, positive or negative, that we can learn and grow from.
The only times I’ve really regretted anything is when I’ve NOT done something. When I’ve analysed it for too long and missed out, or (even worse!) I’ve listened to someone else’s opinion and let them talk me out of doing something. Or doing it differently. And afterwards realised I should have followed my gut and gone ahead with my original instinct.
Talking about regrets…
There is one person who is probably amongst the best qualified in the world to talk about regrets and the weight they can carry. She’s called Bronnie Ware and she worked as an Australian Palliative Care Nurse/live-in carer for 8 years, looking after people in the last 12 weeks of their life. During that time, many of her patients really seemed to want to share their regrets with her, almost as if they knew they wouldn’t rest in peace if they didn’t.
She realised over the years how these regrets appeared to follow some common themes.
So, she decided to capture them in a blog, which attracted so much attention from around the world that she turned it into a book titled:
“The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying”
And do you know what? Having more sex, or working harder or longer hours were not included!
Here’s an excerpt from her book with those top 5 Regrets:
- 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 realise 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 had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”
- I wish I hadn’t worked 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.”
- 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.”
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realise 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.”
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise 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.”
Permission to Live Life Your Way
From that original blog she wrote, to the subsequent book that was published around the world, one key thing Bronnie highlights is the permission that these realisations seem to have helped give their readers.
So many of us seem to get caught up in the flow of life; of the expectations put on us by others, be that family, friends or our workplaces, that we can lose sight of what it is we actually want for ourselves. The things we take pleasure in. What fulfils us and makes us feel like a valued member of our communities.
And it seems that that is exactly what many of her terminally ill patients would have loved to hear, as they often asked Bronnie to share their messages with others, so that they could learn and benefit from their experiences…before it was too late.
A somewhat sobering quote from Bronnie in her book:
“We only have a limited time to live the life we choose ourselves”
There’s no Dress Rehearsal
Over the last few years, I’ve been further developing my spirituality and what this means to me. I believe that, whilst we have an eternal life in non-physical, we only have this one, precious life to live physically on Earth. And whether that’s 50 years long or 100, that means there’s no dress rehearsal. There’s no ‘coming back again’ to right the wrongs or finish off what we don’t get to complete or achieve in this lifetime.
This is one of the many reasons why I love working with my clients to help them to understand what their purpose in this life is.
Why are they here?
What do they want to achieve in this lifetime?
What makes them glow with happiness?
Aand if they’re not feeling this way right now, what needs to change?
I’ve always been what I used to call ‘intuitive’, however through this spiritual work, I’ve really strengthened my connections with my Higher Self and Non-Physical Guides and so, as well as understanding so much more about my life, purpose and energetic capabilities, I help guide others to understanding themselves on a much deeper level too.
So, with all of this in mind, just ask yourself Mary Oliver’s question again:
“What will you do with this one wild and precious life?”
And if you feel a calling from deep inside to explore this more deeply; to understand yourself and your purpose more, to peel away the layers of restrictions and beliefs that are no longer yours and live a life you love and thrive in, then book your free Clarity Call with me to see how I can help.