A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a quote by popular British humorist and author, Erma Bombeck. She had been asked what she would have done differently had she the opportunity to live her life over again. After reading her reply, I couldn’t help but imagine how our lives would be remarkably different if we all thought about what we would like to have at the end of our lives and not just about what we want now.
It has oft been said that the man who lies at his deathbed doesn’t smile at how much he has acquired — the cars, houses, degrees, etc — things he would leave behind. Rather, he basks in simple thought of the lives he has touched, revels in the joy gotten from the relationships he built and sustained all through his life, and the impact he would have made on earth.
Bestselling author, Stephen R. Covey, in his powerful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People titled the second habit Begin with the End in Mind. “To begin with an end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination,” writes Covey. It’s not strange to see a man of 50 or 60 bemoaning the life he lived in his youth. This usually occurs because he lived his youth thinking only of youthfulness. It probably never crossed his mind that there will ever be a day when he’ll be old. He never lived with a clear understanding of his destination.
The Prophet Moses prayed, “Teach me to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom.” Imagine you had 5 more years to live. What would you do different? What will you change? That’s how to begin with an end in mind. I won’t want to lie on my deathbed with tears of regret. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to either. Like Moses, I will like to live each day wisely.
I share Erma Bombeck’s answer below. I found it thorough and engaging.
If I had my life to live over again I would have talked less and listened more.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten popcorn in the “good” living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.
I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.
I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for a day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner.”
There would have been more I love you’s, more I’m sorry’s, more I’m listening’s. But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it… look at it and really see it… try it on… live it… exhaust it… and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.
What if had your life to live again? Would you change anything?
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017