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On Lives Well Lived

When thinking about this Musing, the word “intention” came to mind. Good writers are intentional when applying their craft; specific words arranged in a particular order, punctuation that dictates rhythm and cadence, chapter breaks that tempt readers to turn the page. There are many tools in a writer’s toolbox, but they must be used correctly and for a specific purpose—no hammering of screws allowed—and applied with a vision toward the finished manuscript.

As I began tapping at my keyboard, I found myself focusing on thoughts beyond writing, and with loftier applications of intention. I recently suffered the painful loss of two wonderful friends, a husband and wife who passed within six months of one another. Both died relatively young (early seventies), both were extremely fit, and both took on an unforgiving opponent called cancer. It’s always a wake-up call when this story repeats itself with a personal connection, a reminder of our own mortality. Both my friends had time (albeit limited) after their terminal diagnosis, so thankfully, I had a chance to say goodbye. And during those separate visits, each of them told me they had no regrets. None.

We’ve all heard admonitions about living life to the fullest and treating each day as if it were your last . . . but no regrets? Wow! It’s a powerful statement.

Because we all make mistakes, probably several a day, I believe having no regrets about your life has a deep and more consequential meaning, way beyond the daily faux pas…career, spouse, and lifestyle decisions come to mind. But there’s something else. Not regretting those big decisions implies that you actually made a choice and didn’t just “let life happen.” It’s a simple truth: if you don’t choose, if you don’t decide—life chooses for you.

As I think of my dear friends, it strikes me that their “no regrets” comments spoke to what was so very special about each of them. They made choices that aligned with their values (they used their tools properly) and lived full lives with intention.

Rest in peace, Gary and Susan.

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