Maybe twenty years ago a friend and I worked separately but together through Stephen Levine's book A Year to Live. The core of this book is living as if you knew you had only one year to live.
In my New Year 'Thresholds' workshops I ask a key question: 'What would you change if you had only one year to live?' Its corollary of course is 'What's stopping you – what's really stopping you – making those changes now?' The answer, of course, usually involves fear, one way or another.
A couple of days ago The Guardian ran a piece on the findings of Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse, who's recently written a book based on the five most common regrets of terminally ill people as they lie dying.
(TM drew my attention to it. 'Strange!' he said. 'Why don't they mention not getting enough sex??' No comment.)
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying states that these top five are (and note that all are within our own power to change, with the possible exception of the working one – although we have more choice there, at least in terms of what we consider to be essential to our lives in terms of expenditure, than we are comfortable with admitting):
For it is life
The very best of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and truths of existence,
The joy of growth, the splendour of action,
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory.
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived
Makes every yesterday a memory of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day.