A life well lived

When I look back on my life (hopefully as an old woman), what will I want to share with my loved ones before I go? This is the question I am asking myself, as I venture into the unknown with my life writing project.

Will I want them to know my favourite colour? What and where I liked to eat and drink? How about the things I liked to read, the places I travelled to, the things I did as hobbies? Or would I rather they knew about my friendships, how deeply I loved, and the way it made me feel to watch the sun set and and birds swooping over the sea?

My heart tells me the latter. What good is it to know the surface attributes of a person? They are nothing but veneer and gloss. You have to scratch a little of it off to find the soul that’s underneath, and to get to the one thing – I would argue the only thing – that really matters: love.

Maya Angelou summed it up beautifully when she said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, [they] will forget what you did, but [they] will never forget how you made them feel.”

So, with that in mind, what would you tell your loved ones that would impart just a fraction of the way you made others feel during your lifetime, and the way they made you feel in return? What questions could you answer that would tell them who you truly are, that would leave an imprint of your essence long after you are gone? I’d love to know.

“I_ve-learned-that-people-will-forget-what-you-said-people-will-forget-what-you-did-but-people-will-never-forget-how-you-made-them-feel.”-1

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Life is Too Short

Like many people I have a strong desire to be liked, and when a person comes into my orbit who – for whatever reason – does not appear to like me, I usually internalise it and end up blaming myself. Recently, however, my feelings on this issue have begun to change.

Whether it has something to do with the quiet confidence you develop with age I don’t know, but what I do know is this: I am, fundamentally, a nice person. I am a good listener, I am generous and kind. I care about people and about causes. I am not spiteful or mean. I will do anything for those I love.

If certain people do not see my good qualities and choose to treat me disrespectfully, or make false assumptions about my character when they have never sought to understand it, that is their problem. It is not mine.

Life is too short to hate, to undermine and to discredit. We will never get along with everybody, but if we try to recognise that those people we like least have their own set of problems, their own issues and demons to face, perhaps it might help us to find a way to get along – if not as friends then as fellow walkers of this earth, for the pitifully short time we have on it.

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