Sunday, January 31, 2010

An imaginary conversation with my dying self

An old acquaintance whom I respect mightily recently included me on a mass email inviting her friends to think about their "bucket list." She didn't use that made for Hollywood phrase, but instead couched the invitation within the context of dying without regrets.

So, I imagined myself lying at home in cozy jammies with a glass of wine at my side, knowing that my life is shortly ending. "What," I thought, "DON'T I want to hear pass through my brain or my heart at this time?" I don't want to say,
"I wish I had hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro,"
"I'm sorry I never made it to Hawaii or the Caribbean,"
"I don't know why I never bought a house,"
"I wish I had taken each of the kids - nieces and nephews - on a special trip,"
"I would have liked to have lived in New York City, even for a short period of time,"
"I could kick myself for never having tried to live in Paris or somewhere else overseas."

If I listen just a little more closely, I might hear the following:
"I'm sorry I didn't have a bigger wedding,"
"It would have been cool to work for the National Park Service,"
"Not going into the Peace Corps when I had the chance was mistake I'll never forget,"
"I regret I didn't give more to ease the ache in my heart over homelessness,"
"It would have been fun to enter a giant pumpkin - or something - into a county fair,"
"Why didn't I apply myself more as a biker (or a kayaker or a hiker or a xc skiier)?"
"I wish I had seen my daddy one more time."

These are some of the imaginary conversations I'm having with my imaginary, dying self. The timing couldn't be more perfect as I prepare to start the second 40 years of my life. Turning 40, for me, means embracing my adult decisions, lifestyle, attitudes and values with confidence and enthusiasm and purpose. As I head into the final six months of my thirties, I will ask my real self, "How do I prevent as many of these imaginary conversations from happening in real life?"

Are you willing to have imaginary conversations with your dying self? What would might they sound like?