I caught this poem at the end of the movie Act of Valor last night and it deeply moved me. I Googled for it the moment I got back home; a poem which I would like to share with you. This amazing poem was written by Native American Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh. These words of wisdom by Chief Tecumseh truly stand the test of time.
I hope that this poem can inspire you, as much as it does for me, to live your life courageously, passionately, to the fullest and touching the lives of others along this path of yours. And let us always remember to count our blessings each and everyday.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Job
What are The Top Five Regrets of the Dying as shared by Bonnie Ware (who worked for years nursing the dying) that people have on their deathbed?
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly,in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip.But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks,love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have sillyness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
I was reading Life in the Balance by Thomas Graboys, MD, who is a nationally renowned Boston cardiologist. He not only took care of the hearts of his patients, but also their souls. In his foreword, Peter Zheutlin said,
“…what truly set Tom apart was his uncommon humanity, his intense concern for what ailed the hearts and the souls of his patients, and his unstinting generosity with his time. Despite the crushing workload he carried on his shoulders, no patient was ever rushed and no patient concern was ever belittled. A patient’s annual follow-up with Tom always ran for an hour or so, unheard of in this era of managed care. After each examination, Tom would sit, knee to knee with the patient, on a small sofa in his office and talk. He never interposed his desk. He treated you as equal.”
I respect and salute people who walked their talk! I’m quoting the above as my way of honouring a Dr. Thomas Graboys who was a great doctor, which can be so rare these days.
What also caught my attention when I was reading the book was a poem about death he found solace in. I, too, found these words comforting. Death is one heavy topic which some avoid, including myself at time, and yet it is journey everyone will take whether one chooses to or not.
I was chatting to a friend recently on Facebook and she was telling me about someone she knows in UK who is already starting to plan for his death and he was only in his twenties then. A thought immediately came to my mind then, “If we keep planning for our death, would we ever learn to truly live our life to the fullest?”
Death is a positive reminder that we would not be living forever; the time will come naturally or it may just creep up on us when we least expect. Death is just part of the whole package of living.
When the time comes for us, we will move from this end into a new beginning; “… I have only slipped away into the next room … I am I and you are you…” This poem is comforting as it described death as sort of a ‘new beginning’ that one takes on; death is not an end. I wish anyone who have lost could also find comfort in this poem.
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
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