Posted by: gaylejervis | May 31, 2010


A few years ago I asked an elderly Christian man who was dying if he had any regrets in his life or whether he would have done anything differently and without hesitation he said, “No, I have had a good life.” Even though I didn’t envy the choices he made in his life since it wasn’t a life I would always have chosen, I still envied his peace of mind that he had lived well!

Recently, I wrote, “I long to be fully engaged in living passionately, enthusiastically, and purposefully before I die.”  Since then I have been in conversation with several female friends who tell me that they have the same longing even though they have no illness that hinders them.  Sadly, I think there are a lot of us who may not be able to say at the end of our lives that there is very little we would have done differently!

Do our circumstances whether they are financial, relational,  work- related or illness get us so preoccupied that we don’t believe we can live a life of quality without first getting out of our circumstance?  Do we get so fixated on decisions we should have made but didn’t and now we are caught in a stranglehold of limiting statements like, “It’s too late”, or  “It’s impossible”?  In our preoccupation with our circumstances,  we become  focused on the future – solve our problem and then we will live passionately and purposefully.  Or in the latter, we are focused on the past – which only stirs up regrets.

This weekend as Greg and I babysat our 29 month old grandson, we played the game Hungry Hippo. When Jackson pressed the black lever to pop the marble onto the board, he pressed too hard and it popped over the board and into my glass of juice.  There was a moment of silence which was broken by his, “Oh my gosh”, followed by our hilarious laughter. While we played this game and laughed over this incident, I was not focused on the future of getting well, or on the past – of regretting that I hadn’t slept very much due to pain. Each one of us was just in the moment – which is where we have to be to even begin living passionately and purposefully.

I have always been a list maker and so several years ago I began making a list of what I want to see, do and learn well before it became popular due to the movie Bucket List.  I even hope that I will have the opportunities to be able to check off some of those items. especially my travel goals.   However, as I watch an older Christian widow who only gets really excited if she is planning a holiday, I know that travel goals are not enough to sustain a passionate life.  Obviously, at some point in her life she will not have the health to continue traveling .  Then what happens to her?

So often in conversations women will say, “If I only knew what to do with my life, I would do it!”   Sometimes the most difficult question to answer is what gets us passionate? Do some of us believe that we need to find that one interest that we have seen people pursue who who commit their entire lives to a particular passion whether it be music, art, writing or even environmental issues?    And yet, even when we possess an all consuming passion,  I wonder if that is enough. For example, Clara Schumann, a German musician and composer, was considered one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era. However, as she got older, her tendonitis and bursitis prevented her from playing the piano.  Here was a woman who knew what she loved to do but when she no longer could do it, she sunk into a depression. It is an enviable thing when someone knows what stirs her excitement and passion.  But when we no longer can pursue that interest, what happens to our sense of fulfillment and purpose?

I am wondering if some of us are asking the wrong questions and perhaps finding the wrong answers when we are dreaming about our lives.  There is no question there are many things I want to do which would be easier to do if I was healthy.  And there are many things I cannot do unless I am healthy.  However, it is clear that even though finding something that gets us excited is part of living purposefully, it is not the whole answer.

I want to reflect more on this topic, but for now I just know that checking things off a list is a fun thing to do but it doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t  lived well if many of those items remain unchecked.  More importantly, it is the ability to live in the present always looking for those moments that burst forth unexpectedly and you find yourself fully engaged – and very glad to be alive. I believe that as I increase my daily sense of awe and wonder and appreciation of play,  I can remain passionately engaged in life in the present and not be controlled by circumstances. I want to be as enthusiastic as my grandson who can play with his cache of small rocks stuffed in his coat pocket and then pull one stone out and hold it to his ear and say mysteriously, “ I hear a bobcat.”   Now that is living fully engaged when you can hear the stones speak to you!


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