How many of us live with regrets? I expect most of us do. Bronnie Ware was a palliative care nurse for many years who has compiled a list of the top five regrets people expressed while in her care. You will find the list here.
In reading the list I can say I too have experienced many regrets. The regrets have actually been the subject of discussion in recent times with people from my work place, from home and with complete strangers I have met in coffee shops.
This post is here likely due to my recent discussions with some of the people I care for deeply. The subjects of the discussions are based on ego in some fashion. Things like, I'm not getting the recognition I deserve for my body of work, I hate my work, I don't want to go away, I don't have anyone to look after me, I wish I had someone to mentor.
These discussions can be quite painful. They fill up space in our thoughts to the exclusion of what we really have, which is right now. Now is the only thing we have real control over. What happened before has happened, we can't change that. We can plan for tomorrow but that hasn't come yet and could be derailed. Shouldn't we be enjoying life.
My home family group here in Toronto includes three others. We were looking forward to a good year. Then one has a serious health issue, another hates his job and another is feeling desperately lonely. What is common among these people is that each one is accomplished in their field, two are accomplished academics and the other is revered for his service and dedication.
I was fortunate, maybe lucky or just maybe smart. I met Steven, (that was the smart part). I wish my family here had met him. Steven was my partner for a small portion of his life, which ended on June 9, 2002. Steven showed me we have today. We need to live now. Enjoy today, make the most of it. Yesterday is gone, can't change that, Tomorrow we don't know what that brings. All we really have is now.
If all we really have is now, why do we spend so much time and energy about things we can never change. If we are with loved ones, why are we burning energy on what tomorrow brings. Wouldn't it make sense to spend the same energy being happy. Wouldn't it make more sense enjoying what it is you are fretting about missing from tomorrow.
I use to regret the lack of recognition I received for my efforts in the fight for gay or social justice work. That was until I found I didn't really need it. I know what I have done, and oddly enough, its the little things that make me smile, like the Privatised Highway worker in BC who took my advice and now has a financially secure retirement, or the 15 year old gay boy who sought comfort and is now a proud gay man, or the logger in BC who was anything but NDP, who thanked me for helping him be heard or the smiles I receive from distraught folks I assist in my current work place.
It seems we all get rapped up with what others think of us when we become adults. We lose our child like approach to life, of accepting where we are and enjoying the now. Steven helped me to understand and embrace that child like approach. It is that openness to others that makes me attractive to those I love. That allows people to approach me.
I have one regret that I need to ditch. I have been very lousy in staying in touch with friends and family. Seeing the list of regrets I linked to above has made it evident I want to be better. Lets see how well I do on that front.
Being gay has contributed to much to my being. It often meant earlier in my life that I felt I needed to hide who I was. That takes much energy. That saps you. Yet we still have a life to live and in the end, it really isn't any different from others. We all want to be accepted. We all want to be loved. We all want to be comfortable in our own skin.
I love my family, I love my friends. I miss many of them and wish I could see them more regularly. I have about twenty five people I want to reach out too in the next two months. I should be able to accomplish that. That's my goal. I expect that once I contact these old friends and family, I will reduce the number of regrets I have when I leave this world behind someday.
Notwithstanding what I have said above, the fight for social justice continues, living and enjoying today doesn't mean putting on blinders. I continue to pursue a better world for others. And I close with a thank you to Bronnie and her list and to Brigitte De Pape. Jian Ghomeshi's essay on Ms De Pape has reminded me of me, many years ago. I take up her challenge in making tomorrow better than today, while enjoying what I have now!