Before I Go

by Ray Colon on December 18, 2013 · 5 comments

By Steve Evans from Citizen of the World (Bhutan: Deep Thoughts) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In a comment to my last post, there was a mention of “deathbed repentance”. My initial reaction was, “That’s a sure cure for writer’s block.” That’s how my brain works. Usually, the first thought that enters my mind is inappropriate, sarcastic, childish, or gallows humor. Fortunately, my mind’s interlocutor is up to the challenge, routinely filtering the unsuitable.

What would I say if I knew that I had only days, hours, or moments to live? That’s an interesting question to contemplate, no? Who will I be at the end – the nice guy who thinks before he speaks, or the sequestered inside guy who doesn’t give a damn about the effect that his words have upon others?

Last Will and Testament

By Dinkum (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

I haven’t written a Will, nor do I plan on writing one. My possessions, the few that there are, will default to my family, so there’s no issue there. We’ve all seen movies where the writer of the Will takes this opportunity to air grievances – that’s where the danger comes in. Let’s suppose that I’m feeling cranky, and I set out to share all of the things that I’m thinking; all of the things that I want the world to know. Suppose further that I know that there can be no consequences for anything that I write, because I will be recycling in some hole in the ground – unaware or unconcerned with people problems.

What would I say?

Just thinking about it for a few minutes has convinced me that it wouldn’t be pretty. Secrets would be revealed and feelings would be hurt, with no opportunity for reconciliation or redemption.

The Problem with Ill-Will

By Abellman (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Carrying around emotional baggage, as we all do, is exhausting. The time and energy that we expend to protect ourselves from the distasteful isn’t productive. Worse, when we harbor those bad feelings and dwell, the churn intensifies the Ill-will rather than mollifying it.

Sometimes, thoughts of bad feelings enter my brain and I drift off to a place where I confront those who have done me harm. The monologues are poignant and my uninterrupted truths are righteous and unimpeachable. The guilty listen intently and nod their heads in agreement. They apologize profusely. Then my phone beeps, or a plane passes overhead, or something else happens that snaps me back to reality.

Real-life confrontations never go as well as we’ve imagined. It’s more likely that they escalate into loud, bitter, and inconclusive gripe sessions, so we tend not to go there. Instead, we internalize, we fume, and we try to forget.

In case you’re wondering, no pronouncements of this kind will be made here today. It would be unkind. It would be messy. It would create more problems than it solves. It’s not the right forum.

I’m just thinking aloud here and hopefully planting a seed in your head. Waiting until the end is a no-win situation for everyone involved, so share your grievances with the appropriate parties, let them go, or resolve to take them with you when you leave.

By William Ng (Flickr: Letting Go) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Author Bio:

Ray Colon has written 167 posts on Ray's Blog.

He works with numbers for a living, but don't judge - boring accountants need love too. His blog has no niche (unless writing about things that are important to him is a niche). Some folks cringe when he gets “all political” on them, but he does it anyway when he's in that kind of mood. Sometimes, he writes something nice about someone, but you shouldn't get used to that. His first book, the one he hasn't written yet, is not available on Amazon. Subscribe to Ray's Blog via RSS  or Email.

Send Ray an Email if you have a question. He may even respond.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan December 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Very thought provoking. Actually, I have never thought about who I will be at the end. My thoughts are more along the lines of who will miss me when I’m gone. Because I’m a little self-centered that way! I hope that I am progressing toward being the person I want to be at the end.

My grandpa passed away a couple months ago. Who was he at the end? He was serving others and working as much as his cancer ridden body would let him right up to the very end. That’s who he was all his life.

The reason I keep my blog public is every reason you listed here. If I don’t know who is reading I have to be nice. I could become miserable airing out grievances in a private blog and especially in a notebook that nobody had access to. That’s just it though. It’s misery to entertain that much negativity. It is so much better to clear the air with someone and move past it. Confrontation isn’t fun and is much uglier than our imagined meetings. I once chucked the phone at the wall denting the wall a little and leaving a mark. At least the issue was talked through and forgiveness was reached.
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Ray Colon December 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi Tristan,

Thought provoking is good, as is anything that rises above a, “That guy is off of his rocker,” level of response. “Who will miss me?” is interesting to contemplate too. I’ve done that one.

You’re grandpa sounds like he really had it together. Thinking of others during a time of illness couldn’t have been easy, even while being true to his inner self.

You’re right, too much airing of grievances is a downer for everyone, but we’re human, so it happens. Rather than trying to be nice, I think that I lean more to keeping things civil, although the unfettered inside voice is more fun at parties. :)

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timethief December 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm

I have twice been face-to-face with death and survived. I do have a will and have prepaid the expenses of creation in advance. That’s because I don’t have kids and I’m the eldest kid in my own family. It’s also because I don’t want anyone I leave behind footing the bill or making decisions for me. As for holding grudges I don’t bother. I have a forgiveness and gratitude practice and I’m a meditator, who tries to live mindfully. Being with others during their dying process has made me strong. I’m not afraid to die because what’s in my head is not ugly stuff ie. dukka. Everyone needs to jettison all ugly stuff ie. dukka from their minds now because one never knows when they will go.
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Jean December 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Long standing grudges, major secrets on life decisions and negativity bottled up inevitably manifests in physical health problems / twitches. I’ve learned that the hard way. Most certainly I am better now in terms of airing the big secrets and negative stuff in the best way to those who I love.

Not convinced that blogging this stuff of mine is the best way for me..loved ones deserve the privacy between myself and them.
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Mitch Mitchell January 26, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Hey Ray, I’ve always had problems with forgiveness, probably because I’ve never had the opportunity to have my say, thus it’s hard to give it up in my mind. I don’t go throughout my day being mad at people, thank goodness, but one of my problems when I don’t immediately fall asleep is that my brain gets working overtime, I can’t sleep, and suddenly it’s dredging up things that I’ve thought I’d forgotten about or things that, at the time, were really traumatic. In those times I’m not thinking good thoughts about resolution either; good thing I’m only violent in my mind. lol
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