If today was my last day on this earth would I consider my life to have been successfully mine or tragically lived based on ‘others’ expectations/rules/opinions? I think there have been times in my life when I have had my head down and have found myself blindly following the rules and expectations. There has even been times when I have sat back and watched as the path formed in front of me because I did not seek to understand what it was I truly wanted for my life. There have been other times when my life has truly been all mine: freeing, magnificent and filled me with awe. There has also been times where I have brought the darkness upon myself and became lost in that empty space. But with each new day I move closer and closer to living my life authentically mine.
Recently I read an article on the top regrets people have when they are transitioning out of this life. The study showed a high percent of people regret that they didn’t laugh more, that they lived the life others wanted for them and that they worked at a job that did not inspire them far too much. If today was my last day, I would not want to leave this world filled with regrets, sorrow and bitterness for having lived based on what ‘others’ thought was right or best for me. I am now waking most days hungry for another day filled with self-discovery and embracing all that I truly desire.
The thought of “if today was my last day” has been a strong motivator for me for a number of years now. I stepped into this experience for the first time (that I recall) when I was fresh out of high school. I was just out of a two plus year relationship, heading off to university and the world was mine to explore. For the most part the very idea that the world was mine to explore scared the hell out of me. I decided that summer to create a bucket list; to put in writing all the things I dreamed to experience and all the places I longed to visit. This list, this activity, this habit has served me well. It has served as a reminder, helped focus and motivated me to get out and discover my world. Things accomplished on my bucket list up to today are such things as: white water rafting (in Ottawa, Austria, and Costa Rica), traveled to over 30 different countries (one summer with backpack in hand I spent six weeks traveling Europe), parasailing (Greece and Florida), scuba diving (Florida and Cuba), fired a gun (glock, a Winchester and a sniper), rode on a Harley (three times), Salsa and Lindy Hop dance lessons (for two years), small plane ride (over Go Home Lake Ontario and another time across the center of Costa Rica), mountain hiking up Mount Chirripo (Costa Rica), eco lodge in the rainforest (Costa Rica), humanitarian work in Kenya and safari, explored Ireland by myself, surf lessons (Ireland and California), dancing in the rain, karaoke (uggg I was terrible, but had a lot of fun), and hang gliding. The list has had spontaneous items added to it over the years such skydiving tandem and solo (Ontario and Ireland), zip lining (Jamaica), and a helicopter ride (over Disney in Florida).
As I look back, I am aware that there are significant gaps in my life where I seem to have forgotten and my life has fallen into the routine and the busyness of the day-to-day life. I wonder how it is possible that I forget about my list, as it has always brought me much joy. How I can go two years without accomplishing or even adding a single item to my list? How is it that in my day-to-day life there are few items on my list? Do I need an everyday live life fully list? Just a couple of years ago I even got a “Live Life” tattooed on the back of my neck (inspired by Johnathon Swifts quote “May you live each day of your life”). It was meant to serve as a reminder to me on how precious each day of my life is, to live rather than just exist… maybe I should have put it somewhere I could actually see it 😉
I keep reading that it’s the little things that make all the difference. It is about building daily habits that change one’s landscape. So recently I have added the habit of checking in with myself nightly and I have started another bucket list… oh just the thought of the possibilities make me smile. In addition to a bucket list of adventures, I am creating daily habits that help remind and focus me on what I value in my life, so I hopefully wont get lost in the routines or expectations of others. The past two months I have been able to dig deep and I am getting a clearer picture as to what I value, desire and want in my life. When my last day comes, I want to look back on my life and feel joy in the memories, satisfied, delighted, and proud of who I am and what I have done in this precious short life of mine.
© Kathy Bazinet 2013