At the end of the day, or at the end of your life, what will matter most as you look back? It’s been said before that upon reflection most of us won’t recall the deals we made, the meals we ate, or the figure in our bank account. What we will recall is how we’ve lived our lives. Whether we’ve lived lives of luxury or lived simply, what I believe will matter most are the people and the events that created a sense of connection. A few years ago, the facilitator of a Vipassana meditation retreat I was attending invited us to reflect on the most meaningful experiences we had had over the past year. What struck me as people spoke was the simplicity of the events they remembered. While it may sound like a cliche’, the comments were overwhelmingly about acts of kindness; times when they helped someone or were helped by another. Their acts of kindness included helping an older person carry their groceries to a car, caring for a friend or neighbors’ children, nursing a loved one back to health. As I reflect now on the nature of these experiences, I realize that none of them required anyone to spend any money. What they did require was the expenditure of time. Time; the one thing we can never get back, either at the end of the day or the end of our life. So, as Valentine’s Day begins to enter our social consciousness, I’m thinking of how I might share my most precious gift — the gift of time— with those I love.
Is something holding you back? Is there something you want to do in your life . . . with your life . . . but you’re just too afraid? Once when I had to make a big decision, I had a vision of an old woman (it felt like it could be a peek into the future). She was sitting in a rocking chair at the end of a long hallway, and pondering. I recognized the question in her heart as she asked herself, “what if?” I took that question as an answer, a response to my own question, aware that I if I didn’t want my life to be filled with regret, if I didn’t want to be asking myself that same question at the end of my life, I would have to make the hard choice; the choice that would have me step into and through my fear. The biggest problem is, as FDR so famously said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Even though we know that fear is simply a thought, often followed by a physical feeling, we often allow it to control us. Change is hard for most of us but if we are willing to let those challenging feelings simply be there, we discover that by not feeding them with resistance, they simply fade away. It may not always be easy to do this, but it is always worth it.