Monday, August 5, 2013

A Life Without Regrets

A long time ago, a friend shared a story with me that I can't shake. I thought I'd share it with you today, in the hope that it doesn't bring a feeling of despair, which is quite a legitimate response, but that it gives you the hope and courage to go after your dreams. While it's possible to make a million excuses as to why you aren't living the life you want - not enough money, not enough time, feelings of fear, anxiety, the fear of not being good enough, at the end of the day, you only live once (I think!) and you need to embrace life and use the resources you've been given, no matter how small, to live a life that is good, kind and fulfilling.
My friend is French, and this story comes from his neighbour where he grew up. This neighbour was a hard working man, he started a family with his wife in their hometown. They had a desire to travel by road around Europe, so they purchased an old campervan. It needed work and they didn't have much money, but they thought they could gradually repair it and soon take their journey. Life gets busy, and other things got in the way of their trip. Work, paying the bills and starting a family. As the years passed, the campervan sat in the garage, waiting for it's repairs.

Finally, as the couple were nearing retirement age, the children grown and out on their own, the campervan was starting to see some attention. The couple decided that they would travel as a retirement adventure, finally visiting all of the places they had dreamed of seeing over the years. Then, because life can be so incredibly unkind, the wife was diagnosed with cancer. They still dreamed of taking their trip, but as her illness progressed, it became apparent that she was in no state to travel. It was not too long before she passed away. The husband was comforted by the fact that his daughter promised to take the trip with him. As these things go, her life got in the way, she fell pregnant, started her own family and could not afford the time.

The old man told my friend this story as he was on the cusp of adulthood, urging him not to live a life that he would regret, but to follow his dreams in any way that he could. He wanted to impart his regret in order to prevent it happening to someone else. When I think of this old man, I feel such a deep sadness. How can life be so unfair? It's not like anything particularly tragic has happened to him, I think that perhaps I find it so sad because it is an extremely common path. My friend was so moved by the story that he pulled out a map of the world, closed his eyes and touched his finger to the page. This was where he would go next. He didn't have a lot of money, but he worked and saved for some airfares and took off to an unfamiliar place.

Happiness means different things for different people. I do not know what the best thing for you is, it's something you need to find yourself. Something that will probably change as you grow older and mature. But if you have an idea in mind, something you really want to do, what's stopping you? Please don't let fear, anxiety, or your perception of what you can or can't do hold you back. You'd be amazed of what you're capable of. Feel free to leave your aspirations in the comments, sometimes just writing them down can be the kick-start you need to manifesting them.

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