Prepare to die with a lived life.
Wendy Lustbader, well-known psychotherapist and author, writes:
“Tragedy is to die with unlived life still inside us.”
Unlived life. That idea has the power to open our eyes and transform us.
Our time on earth is short. Our capacities are limited. In many instances, we are called to forsake some goals in order to attain others.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau once aptly described it in his book “Reveries of the Solitary Worker:”
“Everything here on earth is a continual flux which allows nothing to assume any constant form. All things change round about us, we ourselves change, and no one can be sure of loving tomorrow what he loves today. All our plans for happiness in this life are therefore empty dreams. Let us make the most of peace of mind when it comes to us, taking care to do nothing to drive it away, but not making plans to hold it fast, since such plans are sheer folly.”
Unlived life, then, is the plight of each one of us — all human creatures. It’s just a matter of degree.
When he turned 50, Peter, one of my clients, faces a diagnosis of terminal cancer with “little time left.”
Now he gives up his busy schedules in the corporate life to spend more time with family and write a book.
He realizes that no one on his deathbed ever said, “I wish I had spent more time on my office desk counting the figures and preparing reports.”
Peter just does what truly matters to him in his remaining time: prepare to die with lived life.
“In youth, a man fancies that there is a prodigious amount of happiness and pleasure to be had in the world … whereas, when he becomes old, he knows that there is nothing of the kind; he makes his mind completely at ease on the matter.” — Arthur Schopenhauer