“Oh dear”, I can hear a few of you say, “is writing a eulogy, and on top of that my own, not a bit morbid?” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
A bit strange maybe, yes. I would like you to consider two things though:
- If you were to write one today, what would you say about yourself?
- What would you like to have done with/during your life, and does what you actually did match up?
These questions very much go into the direction of : “Don’t postpone anything you really want to do to the future – there might be none”. They are obviously not about worrying what other people think of you (that’s why you are writing your own eulogy instead of someone else doing it for you).
And no, this is not some theoretical, textbook-advice coming from someone who cannot possibly understand what ties you down, and why your excuses are “valid”:
Only 8 years ago, I was leading a very comfortable life: Great career, big three-bedroom flat, no money worries to speak of. And I was unhappy, for a lot of reasons I won’t go into here.
Only one year later, I had sold, or given away, almost all contents of my flat (a few things of sentimental value aside) and moved to a foreign country. I had next to no contacts and was scared stiff as to whether the professional U-turn I was dreaming of would pan out. It did in the end, because I believed in it and wanted to make it work (and therefore worked hard for it), but it would be dishonest not to admit that the first year was incredibly difficult.
Crazy? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely…
… for the very reason that I had arrived at a point I had always dreaded: No real family life, and completely trapped in a career that many people dream of, but I totally hated. Still, being “comfortable” must surely count for something, so the prospect of starting fresh was very scary, especially with no real safety-net to think of. Of course I was worried I was just going through some strange phase, and that I might come to regret my decisions some time down the line.
Today, I can honestly tell you it was the best thing I have ever done. It showed me the value of not postponing decisions anymore, even if some of them were scary and painful. It also showed me that if our gut tells us something is wrong, it usually is – no matter how much we try to justify it. These thoughts played a big part in going for it, all insecurities and hardships aside.
Truth is: Life is never secure, no matter how much we might think it is, and how much the prospect of giving up security scares us. Security is an illusion. I have met more than one person (close family members included) who had dreams, or wanted to change things, but did nothing apart from endlessly talking about them. Some of them are not with us anymore…
This is where I come back to writing your eulogy. The reason it is a eulogy, and not just a letter or journal entry, is that the thought of “no tomorrow” will make you look at things very differently: It brings them into focus and makes them more real than just thinking: “Yes, there is this dream/idea, but I have the rest of my life to go for it”. If you feel your eulogy is a bit boring (and this is not judgemental – different things are “boring” to different people), or even shows a downright unhappy, unfulfilled person, it is probably about time to make some changes.
If there is little to no time left (and let’s not forget: This is a possibility for all of us), you don’t waste it on things that make you unhappy.
© Petra Raspel 2013