No Regrets for A Good Friend
From Bronnie Ware come these top 5 things that people regret about their lives in their last moments. Working in palliative care for many years these are the things she would hear most often expressed at the end of someone's journey. (You can find the full blog here)
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier
Interesting thoughts which I hope help us to take stock in what is really important in life.
I've done an activity with youth before where I had them write a list of 10 dreams for the future. When I grow up I really want... and you fill in your desires for what you really want to have in your life 25 years from today. Slowly I made them narrow that list down. "If you had to give up something, what would it be?" They narrowed the list down to 5 items, then 3... 2... until they had to choose the one most important dream for the future. Material things didn't make it very far. A big house, a nice car, these were scratched very early. A theme easy to detect was left on the page of each young person.
I was speaking with a group of young men on Monday and we were talking about pain in our lives. A difficult thing for many young men to express and yet buried pain is the root of almost all the violence and bad choices we make. As I consider the conversation we had along with these 5 regrets and what was left on the pages of the youth dreaming about their future, it might all come down to one thing; good friendships.
1. When we have true friends and good relationships in our lives we don't have to wear masks. We can be ourselves and express not just the good, but also our fears. We can express our joys and sorrows, our pain, our secrets, our desires, our loneliness... We can explore who it is we want to be and have someone encouraging us all the way, "I believe in you."
2. When good relationships fill our lives, the desire to fill our lives with 'stuff' diminishes. Even if it means I struggle financially, at least I am not struggling alone. I will not get in the habit of my most important relationships coming secondary to work.
3. Much like #1, healthy relationships mean that I can express my feelings, even if we disagree. I have often learned the most from those who I have disagreed with. We learn relatively little from those with whom we agree. In a space where it is safe to be different, it is safe to express how I feel.
4. I have a few friends with whom it is always like time hasn't passed. Whether it is a day or 6 months since we were together, it is the same. However, these close relationships are not to be taken for granted. They need the care of remembering to check in, to stay connected. Without putting the care into our relationships we might just end our lives with all 5 of these regrets, rather than none.
5. When Bronnie rights about the regret that people didn't allow themselves to be happy, it was about pretending. They were pretending that they were content with the patterns and the comfort zone when really they wanted to bust out of them. Be silly! Laugh more! Take some chances! Don't be afraid to dance! To sing! To risk using your talents! To truly smile and not just through the haze that many of us walk around in.
In my life, it is the friends and family I am surrounded by that give me the amazing gift to not pretend. There are moments for fun, hilarity and absolute silliness (my kids and my friends at The Dam provide many of these) and there are times when pain surrounds us and we need to talk it out. The best of friendships, the greatest of relationships are comfortable in both moments, and everything that comes in between. No need to pretend where love reigns!
But perhaps you feel that your friends and family don't create the type of space needed for this type of honesty and fun. My challenge to you today is that you be the catalyst, the spark, the one who begins to explore what this would look like. Decide to trust, risk giving someone the chance to be that kind of friend for you. The best way to start is being that kind of friend for them. It might seem dark and lonely now, but be courageous and brave and keep reaching out to be a friend! At the end of the day our regrets will be our own and it appears to me that there are no regrets for a good friend.