From Dorothy Tibbetts: Do Not Die an Unlived Life

“The title of this piece was a suggestion from my Cercle de Plume writing group. We have a list of topics to choose from. This one caught my attention and pretty much wrote itself.”

As I began to define what an unlived life might mean to me, my focus immediately went to the “do not die” part. From there I went to thinking about what the term “to die a thousand deaths” means.

How easily I sidetrack myself in order to avoid taking a good look at what I want. Ask me what I want for my children or grandchildren and I will go on for paragraphs.  Looking at my desires for my own life is a challenge.

Lots of programming has told me that my job is to take care of others. Up to recently l have judged doing what I want as selfish.

Today, I know that self care is not selfish.

In fact, taking care of myself then creates the energy for me to be there for others in a loving way rather than with an unconscious resentment.

So perhaps I will do better by looking at my life and asking myself what l can do to live a fulfilling life.

Which brings me back to asking, what do I want?  Do I want to make plans with my husband?  Do I want to travel, learn new things, meet new people?  Do I want more time with my grandchildren?  I can answer yes to these questions.

Yet I know there’s more to what I want than just that.  As I allow the question to penetrate deeper, I realize that I want to have a more spiritually centered life. Please note I said spiritual, not religious. I might start by being present to the many daily gifts that life offers when I am willing to pay attention. Things like a beautiful sunrise or sunset, birds at the bird feeder, an unexpected call from a friend, a hug from a grandchild, a hug from my husband.

My life is better when I am sensitive to how my interactions affect others. When I greet people with a smile rather than my stoic New England look, I have noticed people often smile back.  By respecting others’ opinions even when I disagree with them, my need to be right no longer gets in the way of the interaction. Being open to what is being said rather than waiting for my turn to speak, I become more engaged in the conversation. Another brilliant discovery on my part—people appreciate being heard and I develop better relationships.

My morning pages have become a three-page letter to God. I get to see what is on my mind and give my worries to him. Through this process I am finding a better way to live. I have discovered I don’t have to carry resentments, anger, upsets, grudges, or worries with me. As I become aware of them, I give them over. I see my mistakes and learn from them rather than beat myself up. We are all human beings who will never be perfect. I am learning to accept that though life will always be imperfect, there is lots of room for joy.

For me, this will create a life well lived.