Turn Life’s Journey into a Joy Ride

by Larry P. Johnson

Reprinted from “The San Antonio Express-News,” Aug. 8, 2015.
(Editor’s Note: Larry Johnson is a motivational speaker and author. Contact him at larjo1@prodigy.net, or visit his web site at www.mexicobytouch.com.)
Do you ever say to yourself: Oh, if only I could … ? Is there some place in the world you would love to visit? A language you’ve been wanting to learn? An adventure you wish you could experience? A hobby you’ve been wanting to start? Do you have dreams yet unfulfilled?  How much of your life is filled with regret, with the wistful longing to turn back the hands of time and make different choices? Do you worry and fret over the decisions that you have made or not made?
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care with patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded her observations in a book called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, she says, there was one theme that surfaced again and again. They said, “I wish I had had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” When people realized that their life was almost over, she says, and looked back on it, they saw how many of their dreams had gone unfulfilled.
There was a wonderful movie that came out in 2007 called “The Bucket List,” directed by Rob Reiner, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, a story about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list, a bucket list, of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket.” I am all in favor of creating a bucket list, a list of all those special things we want to do, feel, experience, see and achieve before we die. And once we have written down our bucket list, it’s important that we get busy and start doing them, for nobody knows how soon the Grim Reaper may come knocking at our door.
What would you write on your bucket list? What are those inner-most wishes that you keep hidden away? Imagine how gloriously happy it would make you feel to have those wishes come true.
Ware says that another of the top five regrets of the dying was, “I wish that I had let myself be happier.” She writes that many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. And she is right.
A while back, a friend passed along to me this wonderful quote attributed to an octogenarian from Seattle named Mavis Leyrer. She said, “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting … ‘What a ride!’”
And that’s how I see it.