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
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
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.