Living True To What Matters

Over the years I’d lived from one leap of faith to the next. I hit the road with nothing but a tank full of petrol and an intention to move somewhere cooler for a while. The back seat of the jeep had been removed and replaced with a mattress. Being nomadic, I had friends all over the place.

Living on leaps of faith

THE TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING Bronnie Ware

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Having lived on leaps of faith before, I knew that if I was going to will something to me through faith alone, I had to get my head out of the way. Unhealthy patterns surfaced in my mind, my past conditioning and society telling me I couldn’t live this way. There is no better place to face your fears than in nature, where you can get into the true rhythm of life. I headed into the bush. Lying in the jeep that night, the curtains open, frogs singing on the river, under a blanket of a million stars, I smiled. I didn’t have food beyond a few days but I was free as they come.

When my fears were sleeping, I enjoyed wonderful days eating simple wholesome food, swimming in the cleansing crystal clear river, watching wildlife come and go, listening to birdsong, and reading. It was a reverent time, spacious and beautiful.

Letting nature weave its magic

Fears were starting to rage in me about my situation. I took a deep breath, trying to stay present, and trying to find a solution. Each time I did this I challenged my fears head-on, and somehow I always landed on my feet.

As I watched the high tide wash out, I remembered the importance of letting go and allowing nature to weave its magic. The same force that balances the flow of  the tides and creates life, was capable of bringing the opportunity to me I needed, but I had to let go first. The only thing to do was surrender and see where I landed.

Hand it over to a greater force

Surrender is not giving up, far from it. Surrender takes an enormous amount of courage. Being able to accept there is absolutely nothing you can do, other than hand it over to the greater force, is the catalyst that opens the flow.

The next morning I headed down the rocks to the water, where dolphins at play greeted me at sunrise. Emotional exhaustion had worn me out, but watching the dolphins play, I absorbed the new dawn and gently allowed myself to be refuelled by hope.A few days later, a job was offered to me, caring for the dying. It was only by surrendering and staying present that the job opportunity flowed my way; caring one-to-one for clients until they passed.

The energy of dying people is so weakened that an outing is like working an 80-hour week lifting bricks. It completely drains them. John sighed: ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard Bronnie, what a fool I was.’

John’s wife died three months before he retired. He longed to be travelling and laughing with her now. ‘I was petrified to leave work sooner,’ he said.

‘My role defined me in a way. I worked too damn hard.’

Cath told me, ‘Every day is a gift, It’s only now that I’ve slowed down I am truly seeing the huge amount of beauty each day brings us. Listen to the birds.’

Jude was losing her mobility and her speech. ‘We need to be brave enough to express our feelings, now. Not when it’s too late. Tell people you appreciate them. If they can’t accept your honesty, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that you told them. It takes courage to express your feelings.’

Elizabeth found peace when she made contact with her friends. ‘Don’t lose touch with the friends you value most, those who accept you as you are and know you very well, are worth more than anything in the end,’ she said. ‘Don’t let life get in the way. Always know where to find them and let them know you appreciate them.’

Live true to your heart

Of all the regrets and lessons shared with me as I sat by their bedsides, the regret of not having lived a life true to themselves was the most common one of all.

Grace had kept up appearances and now she was dying she didn’t care what people thought of her and she anguished why she hadn’t realised this sooner. ‘Live true to your heart, don’t worry what others think.’

Roaming had been part of me my whole adult life. But changes were happening within me. Not knowing where I’d be living next was starting to leave me weary. All I really wanted was my own kitchen and the privacy to be in my own space.

A home of her own

A few days after she gave birth to her first baby at the age of 45, Bronnie Ware was offered a book deal and the advance paid the deposit for a home of her own. She still goes on road trips with her baby and her mother, but now after their adventure, she can come home.

From The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, © 2012 by Bronnie Ware, published by Hay House.

THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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