These are questions that I have been pondering over lately. I believe its a topic question most of us consider (and that to some, becomes a glaring question to contemplate deeply). Though how each of us answer this question personally is of course something that varies wildly to each individual. And those questions:
What is most important to me personally? What type of life do I want to live? What is truly essential to my happiness and to leading a life that enriches me personally (and thus, what is not so important)? How can one live so that I do not have regrets (or they are very minimal)? What is my life mantra or philosophy? What is life really all about?
These are questions that I have decided its probably better to delve into earlier rather then later.
And here is what I came up with...
Too many people that I see just seem to float through their daily routines and through life. The same thing, day in and day out, until years and years have passed them by. They may have had things that they listed as "goals" or "dreams." They will talk about the type of life they are moving towards, or what they will be doing one day in the future. About the type of partner they will eventually meet, or the type of job they will one day land, or an expensive material good they will eventually save up to buy, or trips they will one day take. But very often, much of these talked about musings never actualize into realities, or when they do, they end up differing from what we pictured anyway.
One important thing that I have come to realize is that what each of our seemingly-long but actually quite short lives are really about is: the entire journey itself.
Every single moment, right now, as its happening to us.
When one reaches the ending, or near conclusion of their lifetime, it seems unlikely that this person is going to look around and say, "Sweet, this is it. Where I am right now was the whole point of everything. All the choices I made and things I did were ultimately building up to what I have in this moment."
I don't think that's accurate ha-ha. And that even probably sounds rather silly to many of you. Yet, many people seem to get into the mindset that focuses on this very idea. The ideas of "building up" to something, planning for the end result, looking towards the destination, always looking ahead to 10 years from now, imagining what one will be, or eventually what they will achieve or will someday have, etc.
While I think its important to our overall life satisfaction to have some idea of the type of life you want, some goals in the long run, or ways you'd like to navigate your journey (this way, one is less likely to end up with regrets. Missed chances, missed opportunities or dreams. Therefore some long term planning is important for things like: financial security, health, happy and successful relationships and making sure to do certain things that you wanted to do), I think sometimes people tend to look to the future too much and as a result, they miss the main point of all of this. They miss truly reveling in and enjoying their life, as the journey unfolds, each and every day. They allow things like fear, worries, hesitation, laziness, distraction, etc, to get in the way. Or, just always thinking of what is to come instead of what is.
I strongly suspect that what life is actually about is more the opposite. That at the end of ones life, that will be when you really deeply reminisce, and reflect, and think back on the whole journey itself! What it meant to you, where you found the most fulfillment, happiness or meaning. And all the amazing things experienced along the way. Almost like reading back through a story book or watching a movie of your life.
And this will also be where there is room for regret if you realize that, along much of the way you never really enjoyed it deeply but instead were always anxiously looking forward or back, or avoiding things you really wanted because of these anxieties or procrastination.
At the end of it all, you will reminisce about...all the things you did, the marvelous places you saw, extraordinary experiences you had as well as funny or awful ones, the people you loved passionately, the really deep unforgettable connections you had with a small handful of special people, some of the mouthwatering foods you may have tasted, the smattering of magical life-changing moments you have treasured over the years and thought nostalgically of, family members to whom one was quite close, our children (if we have them) and our relationships with them, or pets we loved deeply, people we never stopped missing that left our lives, things we are glad that we did, things we wish we had done differently, regrets, as well as our triumphs and moments of amazement.
We probably think about some of the places we lived, showstopping moments one had as well as the smaller yet equally special and touching moments, those few incredible gifts we were given by someone special that we saved, big achievements and regretted failures, times that you felt deeply loved or cherished which made your heart swell, hobbies that filled you with passion or contentment, things you wish you had done more of, things you wish that now looking back on you hadn't made so important or had done less of, great books one has read over and over again and cherished, that incredible dinner party one threw with the people they loved the most that just went FANTASTICALLY, where everyone clicked just right, the food was incredible and the laughter lasted long into the night. Ones favorite birthday celebration, a total blowout and when one felt especially cherished. The "one" that got away about whom you never totally forgot about. Our parents. Our one favorite spot to relax in the sun outside on warm Sunday afternoons, or our very favorite treat we liked to get every week from the bakery down the street. That incredibly amazing vacation you took. People you wish you had forgiven. People you wish that you had held on to more tightly. Things we wish we had said, but sadly we didn't. Moments we felt deeply moved emotionally, as well as the moments when our hearts were broken.
I could go on and on. But all of this, I am coming to realize, the sum of the life one has lived and is living, the millions and millions of moments that make up the entire story, that's what its all about. Right there :-) right here.
We aren't building up to some one big thing that will eventually come. Our life, as we live it and have lived it every single day thus far, that is the big thing. This is the big thing!
All of it. The millions of puzzle pieces (meaning the people, experiences, emotions, places we go, etc), that make up each of our entire life journey and story. That is what its all about. Making all of it showstopping, wonderful, worthwhile, making it all count.
So many people come to feel this pressure of, as I said, "building up" to something or making all sorts of plans. They keep looking to the future (what they think is to come), so much so that they forget that this is their life, now. And its passing them by.
Or they use this "always looking forward to something in the future" as a way to ignore their dissatisfaction with life right now. They say things like "ah, its ok that it isn't good now but it will be. I am building up to this better thing." Life is way, way too short to think that way. If you look around and realize your current life is leaving you wanting...or there is something you are truly not happy with...or there is something you know you want but for whatever reason, are waiting around and not doing something about it...these are all mistakes. Life is passing rapidly as we speak. Its slipping by every single day. Each day spent living in a way that you wish was different is another day that you could have acted upon to create what you really want. This is our life story, as we speak. So I think its crucial for people to realize the fullness of what this means, and to change the way they are living today to make it more meaningful.
Every single day, what we do, experience or create, is adding more and more to the huge tapestry rug that makes up our entire life, weaving in more and more stings, colors, patterns, and textures, which make up the entire design of our life journey.
Therefore, make it awesome NOW :-D Decide what you want, or where you would rather be, or with whom, or what activities would make you feel great and fulfilled, and do it or make those things happen as soon as you can.
Five years ago, I NEVER would have predicted, not for the life of me, where I am today. Same thing if you rewind again 5 more years back. So I suspect if I fast forward 5 years, it'll be something similar. Something totally surprising and different, just as wonderful and unexpected. I bet if many of you look back on your own lives, you might find similar neat surprises and unexpected turns of events as well. And to me, that is what life is. The story, as it unfolds, right now.