Darlin’ No Regrets

After the massive increase I saw in followers since my last musical post, I figured I’d keep the theme going.

Today’s post is similar in concept to the last one, Dreams to Remember, but I came across some interesting information in some of my reading, and I felt compelled to share some more information on the topic.

I should say, that one of my biggest fears with this current path that I’m on, is becoming like many other people in this space, who just scream about chasing your dreams no matter what, and being true to yourself, and chasing your passions, without considering the realities that many people face, and without offering any legitimate, actionable steps that people can take to do all of those things.

Another fear, again, based on what I read from many others, is this: How many ways can you really talk about living a life of purpose, or following your dreams, or finding your true self, or being a person of integrity, developing your roots, etc, until people start to tune you out?

The good news for me, is that clearly that hasn’t happened yet, because according to my blog analytics, there are at least 6 people who are still very interested in what I have to say.

But I do find meaning and value in the topics I’m writing on, or I wouldn’t write them.

Today is no different. Hopefully there is value in here somewhere for you.

A number of years ago, a hospice care nurse by the name of Bronnie Ware wrote an article detailing the 5 regrets of the dying. You can read it here. Ware spent many years in this field, and had conversations with her patients as they approached the end of their lives.

Here are a few of the regrets:

1) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

According to Ware, this was the most common regret of all. People looked back on their lives, at a time when they realized the end was near, and could clearly see the dreams that had gone unrealized.

Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art, says this, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the un-lived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

Pressfield counts Resistance, with a capital R, as a great evil, not because of what it is, but because what we allow it to do to us. Resistance, according to Pressfield, is anything ranging from “reality” to family to “responsibility” to not feeling adequate, to “I’ll get to it later” and any other number of things that we tell ourselves are keeping us from our dreams.

I don’t know that I’m wise enough to fully articulate how I feel about his, but I’ll try. Many of those things are real. We have realities, responsibilities, and families that require our attention and our devotion. We have commitments that we need to honor, and should not be running around at 33 trying to become a rapper by the name of B-Fresh just because that is a dream we may have (Read That Post Here)

Again, the problem is not those things, it is what we do with them and the power that we give to them. So many times we place them squarely in our path, and blame them for our current situation, rather than finding a way to incorporate the two. If we are not careful, not only will our dreams go to die, but we will become bitter and resentful towards things that don’t deserve our wrath.

As I’ve said before, we need to stop reading the script that everyone around us says is it, and make decisions that are right for us. Not with selfish ambition, but with a desire to be true to who God has designed us to be, which is NOT just like everyone else.

Donald Miller, in his book, Scary Close, writes a quote from a dancer named Martha Graham that says,

Each of us is unique and if we didn’t exist something in the world would have been lost. I wonder, then, why we are so quick to conform, and what the world has lost because we have. 

Find a dream (or two) that you can pursue, and don’t live, or die, with regret.

2) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Ware states that may people, in an effort to “keep the peace” in their relationships, opted to suppress their feelings. Often times, because of that, people carried around bitterness and resentment in their hearts.

When I was in high school, I hated going to dances. You may not be able to tell now, based on the cool and hip persona I have, particularly through my experimentation with B-Fresh, but I was not someone known for my dance moves. That, combined with my general discomfort in being around and in front of large groups, had me avoiding dances at all costs.

So I was dating a girl once, and as the homecoming dance approached, we BOTH agreed that we wouldn’t go. She knew that I despised dances, and she was TOTALLY on board with us just hanging out together that night, without going to the dance.

The week of the dance, as I pulled up to her house, I saw her dart across the living room in a very nice, homecomey type dress, and hide in the other room. After some hem hawing around, I learned that SHE was indeed going to the homecoming dance, just not with me. It turns out that since I had decided I didn’t want to go, one of her friends had invited her and she had said yes.

“Since you don’t want to go, it’s not a big deal, right? I’m just going with a friend.”

“…No, that’s totally cool. You should go, and have fun. Nooooo problem at all with that”

I kept that lie in for a couple of weeks, because that is how I sometimes handle things. When she could absolutely tell that something was bothering me, and I couldn’t hold it in any longer, I unleashed a high-octane, profanity laced tirade and let her know that she had crushed my heart, dreams, and entire future, and that she should bear that burden for the rest of her life.

That’s not really true, at least not the profanity part. When you are 17, everything is soul crushing, and I probably overreacted. But the problem wasn’t that I was upset, the problem was that I held everything in, let it fester, and allowed it to consume me.

My encouragement to you, is that you not live so bottled up inside, particularly with those you care about. Sharing your feelings and emotions can be a vulnerable thing, and there is certainly a time and place for that, and a time to be more guarded.

I don’t think we should be guarded in being fully, us. We need to get off the stage and quit performing in an effort to please and appease the “crowd”.

Donald Miller writes:

Acting may get us the applause we want, but taking a risk on being ourselves is the only path toward true intimacy. And true intimacy, the exchange of affection between two people who are not lying, is transforming. 

You have been blessed with valuable gifts and you have valuable gifts to share with the world.

And I hope you will.

3) I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.

My dad once said something along the lines of,

The value of our lives can be determined by the depth of our relationships and the impact we have on others. 

Or something like that. Maybe I just made that up, and attributed it to my dad, because that sounds like a very intelligent and meaningful thing to say, and my dad often says very intelligent and meaningful things.

Ware said that many of her patients, at the end of their lives, would suddenly realize that, in the hustle and bustle of life, they had neglected many of those that they had once cared most deeply about.

Ware says,

There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. 

It’s pretty normal, I think, for us to get busy and focus on work, and family, and have relationships slide to the back burner.

But Ware says, that the thing people most want to get in order when they are approaching the end, are their relationships. I imagine that when the time comes, particularly if it comes sooner than we’d like, that there will be a phase during the process that will have us sad about the people we will leave behind. I don’t know for sure, I can only imagine. But I hope, that for me, during that time, I hope it’s only a passing sadness of missing out on future experiences, not a deep regret about what we’ve missed out on in the past.

One of the excuses I hate the most, is the idea of “being busy”. It’s not necessarily that it isn’t true, it’s just that I believe we make time for things that are important to us. A number of years ago I decided to make a concerted effort to change the way I was explaining my busyness when speaking to others. When it is something important, particularly important to the other person, rather than saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t have time to…” I started saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t make time to…”.

For me, it’s a little more honest. We make time for things that are important to us. And we really make time for people that are important to us. At least we should.

True friends and loving family are things to be cherished.I hope we’ll all take the time to do that without the need to be on our deathbed to help us realize that.

Ware, again:

It all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

Write your own script, share your gifts, and invest in your relationships.

Much Love,
Bryan



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