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?


Clownface said...

On the flip side, things I'm proud of that I'm reflecting on even now as I contemplate the second half of my life beginning?
"How lucky that I've seen the Northern Lights,"
"I understand the magic and allure of Paris,"
"I am proud that I overcame bulimia,"
"I have seen god in Yosemite National Park,"
"I know the value of education, having paid my way through college and two graduate degrees,"
"After working with and volunteering to support homeless people I appreciate how lucky I am to have and be able to count on a home and a family,"
"Not everyone can say they've biked 150 miles in a day or whitewater rafted down the Colorado River."

What would be on your "proud of" list?

dillard said...

I'll have to ponder this one. I do have my list of "life accomplishments" but it is interesting to think of what things have probably (mostly) passed me by. I read somewhere that one of the tough things about getting older is the closing of certain doors of opportunity. While, at the same time, of course there are the benefits of increased mellowness about that fact (we hope). Thanks for the thought provoker!

Clownface said...

Cool! Right now I'm growing giant pumpkins and I've started volunteering for the National Park Service as a Friend of the Boston Harbor Islands. I'm amazing.