|All change, please.
A palliative nurse gets to witness a lot of earthly departures. Someone sent me a link which made me pause for a moment’s reflection. Its author was a nurse writing about people’s final, often sadly regretful wish-lists as they faced the greatest adventure of all, death, the biggest change of all.
I am currently facing the possibility of change, a paradigm shift, a genuinely small wrinkle or shrug of eternity, insignificant to all but me and those whom I know and love. Life is full of small comings and goings. How we deal with them is determined by how we deal with ourselves when change, inevitable as it is, knocks on our door. Am I going to cower behind the sofa, expecting Freddy Krueger to be on the other side? Or, do I invite the stranger in.
I’ve been wondering why I still need so badly to feel validated, measured by the quality and, above all, the quantity of effort I expend. One ‘deathbed wish’ the nurse heard so tragically often was
“I wish I hadn’t felt the need to work so hard”.
I sometimes look back and recall that for so many who have gone before, life was ‘nasty, brutish and short’. Which particular roll of the dice caused me, this one soul among so many, to have arrived in the world at this time, where comfort, food and shelter are so freely available? And, why do I feel so driven to validate myself by working so abominably hard? For years, the whispering demon of ambition squeaked and gibbered as it sat on my shoulder, enslaving me. As I grew older, I came to see that a prerequisite of naked ambition is an ego so inflated that one can barely see over the top of it. Slowly, inexorably and hitherto incompletely, the whispers have faded and lessened and the promised glitter fades like shabby tinsel. The world will not cease to turn because people don’t understand Kepler’s Laws. The Universe will not cease to expand because I failed to explain the concept of space-time accurately. As I know myself better, the mists roll away and I know as I am known, which is ultimately a simple matter of perspective.
Also heard often was “I wish that I had let myself be happier”
Happiness is, ultimately, a choice. I think. Sticking fast to old habits and patterns, the ‘comfort of familiarity’ – can overflow into the emotional life thus I convince myself that I’m happy because I’m afraid of change when in reality I’m only barely contented. H’m.