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The Grace Project

I wish...the most common deathbed regrets... 1 of 5

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 An article in today's Daily Telegraph, caught my eye. It was entitled, "I wish...the most common deathbed regrets." the article reviews a book by a palliative care worker named Bronnie Ware, who having cared for the dying for a number of years decided to write a book based on her conversations with her patients called, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

According to the author, the most common regret was that the dying wished that they'd had more courage to live a life true themselves, not the lives that others expected. Friends of the Grace Project will find Ms Ware's theme a familiar one.  Like me they will not be remotely surprised to read that the number one regret was.  


But why I wonder does it take "courage" to live a life that can be considered as "true"?  Perhaps the answer is rooted in our fundamental need for acceptance.  Acceptance is sructural.  Our desire for it is seemingly insatiable  We want to be loved and accepted and we will do or be whatever it takes to gain that approval.  As one who has spent a lot of his life being held hostage to the opinions of others I can tell you that when we are controlled by the opinions of others we're in he'll. I mean literally on hell.

There's a great struggle bound up in being ourselves because the blunt truth is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of call for it. I don't want you or I to end up with failing to be true to ourselves as our dying regret. 

Courage of course is not the absence of fear, on the contrary, it is being alive to the point that our senses are filled with fear, but doing it anyway. Taking the reputational risk. Facing the questions, What if people reject me? What if they don't like me anymore.  Well take comfort my friend, if you're not being who you are they don't like you anyway, they like or dislike a projection of you - they've never met you, and most likely, nor have you, met you!

Whenever I think about this profoundest of regrets my mind travels back to an initiative we ran some years ago, it was a School for the Performing Arts, based on knowing who you really are, called Grace Project Creative.  I'll never forget working with our first cohort, (student intake). One morning I spoke with them about their dreams, what they wanted to do when they'd graduate, excitedly they responded: ballet, film, acting, singing and so on.  Then I asked each of them to tell the class the story of their personal journey to date. What was so illuminating is that they all spoke of how the teaching they'd received in the Grace Project, had given them enough courage to dare to live their dream.  They talked about the professions they'd left behind.  All but one of them had given up a lucarative careeer in one form or professional services or another: Accountancy, Law, Banking, Intellectual Property,  all solid careers. Why? I asked them.  Why did you ever go into those professions if your heart wasn't in it?  To a man (and woman) they said, we only went into it to please our parents.   So here's to you brave ones....

Each one of us is born original, most, if not all of us die a copy.  Whilst the chance remains for us to be authentic, let's sieze the day, thorw caution to the wind, take the risk -- who knows we might just like being who we were made to be.  Let's let grace do it's perfect work and bring us to the place where we can say, without fear or favour - I'm free to be me.

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