In her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, hospice care provider Bronnie Ware shares the number one regret of her dying patients: "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
I'm planning to have no regrets when I die. I think it's fairly simple to do if we embrace each moment as it comes and follow the yearnings of our hearts, rather than listen to the nonsense racing around in our heads.
Think back to the times in your life when you've felt truly euphoric. It seems we're taught that ecstasy can only be experienced in limited doses because glimpses of true happiness are the rewards for doing what we're lead to believe we should be doing. I was never very good at doing what I should be doing. I've always been guided by some sort of personal inner compass, but it's only recently I've begun to understand that that inner compass is nothing less than my divine spirit. Theoretically, a 55-year-old mother of four should not want to sell out of a comfortable life in America and move to such a challenging location. If I had listened to my head, I'd have known that and settled for making the most of the perfectly lovely life I was leading before I came here. When my heart disagreed with my head and urged me to move on, I trusted that the universal intelligence that dwells in my heart knew far better than my human mind what I needed to do. My heart soars on a warm sunny beach, so why not arrange my life to spend as much time as possible in a place that makes me so happy?
The logisitics of making this happen were tricky indeed, but to me it was worth it if I can spend Sundays in a spot like this and the rest of the week at my home in the jungle.
To quote Albert Einstein, "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." Here Maya and Layla look like they're just sitting in a tide pool, but actually they're busy opening their hearts to every possibility that exists.
Last Sunday when I stood up from drying in the sun, I found that I'd created a Matisse-like portrait of a man and a woman just by rolling over on my blanket. After 10 minutes in the equatorial heat, my creation went back to where it had come from, but the glimpse of accidental art still nourishes my soul.
Tanga's is my idea of a 5-star restaurant: good food served on picnic tables directly on the beach, best enjoyed in a sandy bathing suit with a tree full of monkeys overhead for entertainment.
At this point, not one person in my immediate family has a 9 to 5 job with benefits. I guess when the kids were growing up we didn't emphasize living securely wrapped up in one's comfort zone. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being content to stick with a steady source of income to enjoy free time without financial worries if that's what floats your boat. Some people thrive on routine and that's a lucky thing for the rest of us who can't bear the prospect of working in the same place for much longer than a year or two, because someone's got to keep civilization functioning. Many people work at the same job all their lives and still manage to stay connected with their souls. Others develop a goal and find great satisfaction in the pursuit of it. Some people don't know what they want and feel content only when they let go of all expectations and allow the whims of the universe to guide their lives.
My heart dragged me several thousand miles away from my roots to find my peace. You might need to relocate to the other side of the world. Or you might find exactly what you need in a box of paints or a volunteer position. The important thing is to take the time to check in frequently with what your heart is telling you. It will always point to the truth that is yours alone.