I was doing dishes this afternoon when I grabbed a leftover Tupperware bin from my guy that he had placed in the sink.
I cringe every time I see a leftover Tupperware from him in the sink.
I have had one too many a time where I am blindsided with such a pungent, grotesque smell, slapping my face like a rebellious teenager caught stealing a car, from his weeks’ (maybe months’) old forgotten Tupperware.
Oftentimes, he’s kind and just throws them away when they get to that point. However, today, as I picked it up, I realized this was the Tupperware that he took for lunch yesterday. Thank God. No belly wretching smells ahead.
My heart was softened at this. While I know it will only be an every once in a while occasion where he’ll remember to bring his leftover box inside in record time, however, I was grateful that he remembered. Even if he wasn’t cognizant that he remembered, it made me very pleased. Just a quick, normal rinse and store in the dishwasher. Ahhhh…. The niceties.
This thought then led into a whole symphony of thoughts that ultimately joined up with the most recent that has been weighing on my mind.
My Work. But what else? If you’ve been reading my posts with any consistency, this is obviously the most daunting and clear theme of my life – What I am giving my time on? Am I doing work I am proud of? I have limited days on this earth, limited time. What am I prioritizing, and what is getting my “leftovers”?
And then I thought of all of you. Those who read our blog with any regularity. Those who have subscribed to get our spattered, oftentimes-convoluted (and contradictory) thoughts dumped in your inbox from time to time and for whatever reason, enjoy it (masochists!). Those who support our work, our cause of learning, loving, sharing and trying to build and inspire hope, and maybe even a laugh here and there in the process.
And then I thought about my other job, the one I am currently “married” to, but keep eyeballing you all like a lustful horny teenager. Ok… that went a little too far. But you get the point I hope… but for the sake of clarification, basically, I wanna leave my marriage and whisk myself away with you, and maybe a few of your cousins like painting and art and other creative avenues (for fuck’s sake, this analogy just got super creepy. Sorry ‘bout that. *disclaimer – I do not condone incest!)… But it’s that same question – who’s getting my leftovers?
You guys are. The readers. The ones I want to be with.
And quite frankly, I am too. Because writing, painting, and creating for anyone else, including myself, ultimately is my highest fulfillment. And here I am, giving all my time, energy and attention to something that “feeds” me, but leaves me completely starving in all the other areas that really mean anything to me at all.
I am giving you my leftovers. I am giving me my leftovers.
This is really a larger problem in our society. We prioritize so many of the wrong things, that if we actually listened to our elders and took their words to heart, we wouldn’ be doing this, based on their wisdom…
I don’t mean to “kill” the mood, but let’s talk about death, baby.
I think about death a lot. Not in the morbid, sadistic way – well, maybe it’s in the morbid and sadistic way here and there – But in reality, I guess it’s more focused on what my life means in the context of death…
Or rather, perhaps it is the cornerstone forcing me to incessantly contemplate how well I lived, errrr, how well I am living, given I am still here and all…
I read a book about 4 years ago called the “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed.” And in a podcast by one of my “on the regs,” The Good Life Project, Jonathan Fields interviewed the author of that book, Bronnie Ware (here). While they didn’t go into all the details of what she wrote about (thank god, because I already inhaled the book), it reminded me of just how often I really do contemplate my death.
This contemplation loop began way back at a Christian internship I attended in 2001-2002. I don’t know what exactly happened, or which specific moment that triggered this line of thinking (sorry for the buildup to nowhere, there), but I do know that’s when it began. I became incredibly aware of my short years on this earth; and almost every day since, it’s become kind of a virus, existing in my lifeblood. Some days this serves me well as I make very well-intentioned choices based on what I feel would potentially cause me regret on my deathbed, and other days it beats me over the head with a heavy guilt stick when I feel like I am making mistakes or find myself in a situation selling myself, or others short (that I have likely created).
Side note and fun fact – One early date my guy took me on was to a graveyard (yes, yes, at my request – I, too, am shocked that he didn’t run for the hills then).
I love graveyards. Not for the thrill of conjuring fear around the dead (c-mon guys, I am not that twisted… okay, okay, to be honest, I do love scary things like that, too). but it’s more about the somber, time-ceasing, ever-aware moment I experience gazing at the numbers etched in gravestones of an entire life, summed up in just eight numerical characters. I can’t help but wonder, what happened in those 10, 30, 60, 110 years of life this person experienced? Were they happy? Did they make the mark they wanted to make? Did they die knowing that they contributed to this life in the manner to which they had hoped? Was it a life wasted?
Was it a life wasted?
This question terrifies me. It’s literally my greatest wrestle – will my life be a life wasted?
Aly tells me no. That my life has made a huge impact, at least for her. And I do consider that encouraging. However, I am constantly plagued by this massive fear that I have thrown my life away. I have sucked up all my potential and wasted it. My best years are behind me.
So, I try to combat this in a few different ways, one of which, really contemplating the regrets from our elders, guided by the top 5 regrets of the dying… Back to the book, Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse for terminally ill patients, had the privilege of connecting and interviewing dying patients prior to their passing. In her incredibly moving conversations, she identified these top 5 regrets (and for those of you that are like Aly and prefer the cliff notes version of the book, well, here they are – you’re welcome):
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Well, fuck me four ways to Sunday. That’s hard to digest.
Not one “I wished I would have made a million dollars.” Not one “I wish I would have stayed at my job for the security and benefits.” Not one “I wish I would have taken fewer risks, or played it safe.” Nope. They regretted missing out on Happiness, People, Feelings, Honesty, and LESS work (or if you read the book – this also is equivalent to regretting not working hard towards more meaningful work).
They regretted giving their leftovers to all the wrong people and things.
Don’t we all do this in varying degrees? Don’t we all give our leftovers to our partners, who will actually be there for us and support our very vulnerable lives, and instead prioritizing our work colleagues and bosses? Don’t we all give our leftovers to our kids or family members or spouses and instead focus on impressing people we have never met or hold no connection with? Don’t we all prioritize what is safe and secure above being honest and true to ourselves for our own happiness in our work, love or aspirations? Don’t we all spend ungodly hours working when it’s not actually necessary instead of cultivating our friendships and families?
Yeah, this is a hard pill to swallow.
So, when will we (i.e. I) get it? When will we have the bravery, the courage, the balls or the ovaries, to actually change this horrifying aspect of ourselves? When will our top 5 regrets be like 2 regrets or even none? When will we assign our leftovers to the right place?
I know it’s the start of a new year, and this whole re-prioritization of my leftovers is at the forefront of my mind.
What matters, y’all? What matters? Because let’s give that our first and foremost. Let’s assign the leftovers where the leftovers are due.