How do you want to live your life? Exactly what qualities or values do you want to embody, day after day after day? What is the absolute most important thing to you in your life? Precisely how do you want to make a difference in the lives of other human beings during your lifetime? Do you know, specifically – clearly?
If you have to stop and spend any more than 10 seconds trying to collect these answers from the recesses of your mind, you may have a problem later on down the road.
Recently I watched a movie entitled, Wit, about a woman named Dr. Vivian Bearing (played brilliantly by Emma Thompson) who was dying of cancer. Dr. Bearing had lived her life as a highly intelligent literary scholar, much respected by her peers, not much liked by her students. She was described as acerbic, cold and unfeeling. It was easy for her to justify her actions throughout her life – she was smarter than they were. They, of course, were the dull, somewhat insipid individuals who didn't get it.
It was extremely ironic how her entire approach toward people and life – her rather distant, detached, unemotional position – seemed to be mirrored in how the physicians and technicians treated her during her illness. And she saw it. She looked directly in the mirror and she understood the irony.
The tragedy was that, by that time, it was really too late for her to make any sort of amends. She even tried to remain detached during the treatment of her illness, but gradually her own humanity and vulnerability demanded her full attention.
What she saw, I believe, was what we will all see during those last hours of our lives. We will have the opportunity to see, in full 3-Dimensional Technicolor, Dolby Surround Sound, whether or not we lived our life with compassion and kindness and in any kind of alignment with our values. And I truly believe that if we did not live our life by those values – those final hours will be more than unbearable. They will be torturous beyond anything we can possibly conceive.
Let's not do that. Let us NOT wait until we have no choices. Let's not lie in the pain of regrets and an unspeakable guilt wishing we could do it over again. Wishing that we had let go of that anger with so and so. Or that we had spent more time just sitting with our grandmother or had withheld our frustration when someone made a simple mistake.
And let me ask you. If you make the choice right now to more consciously live in direct alignment with your values, how would that show up in your life? What kind of relationships would you enjoy with your loved ones? How much joy and happiness would you experience? How fulfilled would you be? And then, at the end of your life, how would it feel to look back on your life and see all this joy, love and happiness that you experienced?
Unspeakable regret – or gratitude and happiness. Not much of a contest here, right?