Looking back fifteen years from now, I wonder what I will wish I had accomplished. This is a serious question. Life has no rewind button. There are no do-overs. It really is now or never! Will I wish I had spent more time with family? Will I wish I had gone after that degree or specialty certification? How about that big idea I came up with? Will I wish I had taken up rafting or made that big move out of state? Will I wish I had resolved issues with my father or friend?
Can you imagine living a life of no regrets? Recently, I realized today is the time to start working on this. Once a day is gone, I can never get it back. A missed opportunity is sometimes my only opportunity. Time is short.
I knew a woman once. She was tall and beautiful, creative, witty, and intelligent. She gave awesome hugs. Accomplished pianist. She was warm-hearted, generous and loved to read. Beautiful singing voice. Had a wonderful, but definitely not perfect husband. Four awesome daughters – two still living at home. For two years, I kept meaning to spend some time getting to know her better. Maybe special lunches together or even a weekend trip. I was so caught up in the busyness of my life, I kept putting off contacting her. I was also arrogant. Arrogant enough to believe that time was on my side and would wait for me. What a shame! Her husband called me one day to say she had cancer and had only a few weeks left. I dropped everything to go see her. I even helped take care of her during her last few days. She was in so much pain by then, she was kept pretty close to unconscious on morphine. One night, in her drugged state, I heard her mumble “I am not done yet. There is so much to do.” She passed away early the next morning at the age of 44.
I will forever regret never having taken the time to get to know her better. I lost forever the opportunity to hear about her hopes and dreams. I will never know why she made the life choices she had. Nor will I ever know what she was passionate about or what frightened or angered her. I don’t know what her favorite color was or what growing up in Indiana was like. I will never know how she felt about being a mother and a wife. I will always regret that I let the opportunity to get to know my mother slip by without a second thought.
After losing my mother so young, I swore I would never let something like this happen again. The pain of regret was so strong I believed it was enough to motivate me to keep that promise. Guess what? It isn’t! I have done it again many times over the last 25 years. I have let my nephew go from birth to 25 without spending time with him. Oh, I see him now and then at family events but have not spent any time with him. I’ve done the same thing with my three sisters. 25 years is gone in a flash. My husband’s grandchildren are 7, 6, 4 and 15 months. Am I going to do the same with them?
No rewind button. No do-overs. If I want a life of no regrets, I’d better get busy identifying my priorities and then sticking to them! Here is the game plan. I made a list of all the things I want to accomplish before I die. The silly and the serious. I set a date by each one. This list isn’t static. I am always adding to it. I keep the list where I can read it every day so I don’t forget what I am running towards.
Courage is needed to live a life of no regrets. I hope I have that courage! Be courageous! You will not regret it!