This afternoon, I read an article that listed the top five regrets of the dying. Interestingly enough, "Having not met The Shaeman" wasn't on the list, but I'll let that slide...I mean, we're still new to this thing, right? This list was beautiful, if not sad. So much truth about human existence is wrapped up in that list. Common fears...common regrets....common lives.
We're all born into common lives. At some point, some of us wake up and begin breaking out of this commonality - W.B. Yeats & Carl Jung both talk about this cycle in their respective alchemical works. Joseph Campbell speaks of this in his Mythos lecture series. There's a reason it's common. Every society is baptized in archetypal symbol sets, and we each inherit the set into which we are born. Said more plainly, we all inherit shit from wherever we come from. This role we are taught to play early on reaches a critical mass when we're finally forced to make a decision:
Do I continue living this common life I've inherited, or do I take the painful path of liberation to something different?
There are those who, in great numbers, make the decision to stay within that inherited set of symbols, or masks, as Jung called them. Their lives are oftentimes marked by a level of success, easiness, joy. To many, there is no harm in this existence and I would even go so far as to say that there is nothing inherently right or wrong, on a moralistic scale, to choosing either of these paths. Now, how we handle the implications of those choices are what hangs us up, but for now, we're simply dealing with the choice itself. For those who choose the inherited path, life runs significantly more smoothly overall. For those who wish to take the painful path of liberation, there's a reason I call it the painful path. You guessed it. IT HURTS LIKE HELL.
Now, if the inherited path is one marked by a more simple, peaceful existence...what marks the other path? The new path? Adventure. Excitement. New landscapes. Insights that take your breath away. Peace with your True Self. Not to sound so yogi on anyone, but if I've got to choose between peace with my friends, family or neighbors and peace with myself? I'm choosing peace with myself - if for no other reason than the fact that I can NEVER uninvite myself over for dinner. I'm stuck with me. So I'm going to have to find peace within myself on any issue over and above peace with anyone else, I don't care who they are.
But, oh, the joys of this painful path of liberation. There's a mystery to every sunrise. A joy to every sunset. There is beauty in everything around you and finding it begins with this liberation.
Don't believe me? Ask the dying.
The truth is, we are all dying. "One breath at a time," as Tyler Durden puts it. It's true. I, for one, want to live every single day as if it could be my last because it just might be.
So finally, here is the list of the top five regrets of the dying. You can read the full article here.