What is the number one things people say on their death bed? Possibly, I wish I’d had more time, I wish I had done more? I guarantee it’s not I wish I had worked more. Maybe I wish I’d seen Japan/Australia/ the moon, delete as applicable.
Psychologist William James said that consciousness isn’t simply existing and we must have an awareness of our being. It follows that that stems to wherever we are at the present moment. When we are completely aware of our surroundings we are truly alive, and for many that is most profound when we are outside. Whether it is having our faces beaten and bodies being knocked off balance by mountain winds, the roar and smell of ocean waves crashing around us, or the simple beauty of sitting in the garden on a summers evening, it matters not. ‘Without awareness we are not truly alive.’
Returning to our death bed thoughts, how about I wish I’d spent more time with my eyes open, enjoying what was around me? I wish I’d lived more in the moment. Time goes slow when we’re bored and also when everything is new. Apparently this is why your childhood summers seemed to last forever, because every experience was a new one, and now as cynical jaded adults we feel like we’ve seen it all.
Now as adults we sleep walk through life. We are on auto-pilot. We can drive to work after having dropped the kids of at school, after getting them all ready, after making them breakfast, and we do these things no problem, without even thinking because it’s what we do. How often have you caught yourself three minutes from work thinking, ‘I’m actually driving here’, and have been for half an hour? We haven’t realised because we’re coasting through life. Every morning is the same routine, but routine is good, organisation is key, organisation is freedom, thanks Jocko.
But I’m advocating awareness here. Active awareness of oneself and looking in on oneself, regardless of what it is that we’re doing. By all means be reflective, assess, journal, whatever it takes for you to be successful, but let’s try to do this for the majority of our lives. Can we be aware of our surroundings at all times in this world of constant distraction and a million advertisers competing for your attention? Think of an Australian Aboriginal on walkabout. Or a tribesman hunting on the Namibian plain. Awareness is everything. It leads to being alive and not sleepwalking through existence. And may even halt a few death bed regrets.
Currently listening to: The Pale Riders: L’Appel Du Vide
A quick internet search shows me the top answer is I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me and, yup, there’s I wish I didn’t work as much straight in at number two.