The social pressure on each individual is too big to ignore and it needs great inner strength to assert one’s uniqueness.
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This is a main regret expressed by dying people in a Palliative Care unit, UK. It has been recorded by nurse Bronnie Ware from Australia who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. Ms Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom in a book, Top 5 regrets of the dying, which became a bestseller within no time.
What is the secret of its success? The secret is that it is a verbatim report of dying people revealing their heart. It is said that dying people do not lie; partly because on their death-bed they don’t have the cunning that is needed to lie and partly because they have a transparent understanding of their life which they have spent trying to please others. People usually suppress their true feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settle for a mediocre existence and never become who they are truly capable of becoming. The social pressure on each individual is too big to ignore and it needs great inner strength to assert one’s uniqueness. Why do people lack courage to be themselves? Because they always choose conformity and recognition over individuality. They postpone happiness all their life as if it is a reward which will be given to them at the end of their life whereas happiness is a choice one has to make each moment. Very few people honour their dreams while they were alive and sadly this is realised at the threshold of death.
Is there a way it can be avoided? Of course there is: by changing the approach towards death. Let it sink deep inside that death is an integral part of life, it is not antagonistic to it. If you live life fully, enjoying each moment you will enjoy death too, as it is the pinnacle of living.
Take the precious advice of Osho. He says, “One who lives totally, dies totally, and wherever there is totality there is beauty. Death is not ugly because of death, but because you have never lived rightly. If you have never been alive, you have not earned a beautiful death. It has to be earned. One has to live in such a way, so totally and so whole, that one can die totally, not in fragments. You live in fragments, so you die in fragments. One part dies, then another, then another, and you take many years to die. The whole thing becomes ugly. Death would be beautiful if people were alive.”
The death blooms out of life just as a flower is born out of the bud. Have a look at yourself in the mirror and find out whether you are really living or not. Do you look burdened? Do you have enough energy to feel young, fresh and alive? If you do, then you have earned your death which will be young, fresh and “alive”.