Do you know what saddens me most? The fact that we have regrets when someone we love and care about dies. Talking about death is somewhat still considered a taboo in today’s society but I believe it’s time we changed that because there is something you and I both really need to embrace and that is the fact that death should affect the way we do life.
It was a shock when I received the news of the passing of my primary school teacher who was my chess coach for years and had made me the chess player I am today. I was in secondary school at that time and was about 13-14 years old. I still missed primary school and the teachers there and would visit from time to time. I distinctly remember myself thinking of visiting the school and my former teachers the week before the news of his passing. And what immediately struck me is the finality of death.
(a picture of me and my late chess teacher)
Death allows no replays and no pauses. It’s like a broken record which just stops and can never continue again. We can’t go back and tell someone what an impact he or she has made in our lives. We can’t tell them we love them one last time.
And that’s why we have regrets. We regret not having the courage to express our feelings of thankfulness and love to someone while they were still around. We regret not spending more time caring for people such as our grandparents, friends and even siblings. Instead, as most of us grow up, we blindly chase after the trivial things that life says will make us happy: MONEY, POWER, FAME and SEX.
It starts young, this problem. Especially during the teenage years! Instead of learning how to interact and socialize with others, it is now considered a norm for a teenager to pull out their smartphone and do whatever he or she pleases at a social event or worse still at a family gathering. In building connections with our online “friends” and followers, we lose sight of the people who really matter—the ones who are not on our screens but physically around us.
I’m not sure about the rest of you but in my early teenage years, I rarely thought about death. I thought that death comes when we’re 80 and beyond—after we live. I also used to think that my parents and the people I love will forever be around.
But, the fact is death happens whenever and wherever. It does not follow the rules of the game that we so often think it should. Death likes to take away the best people at what we deem as the wrong time. I remember crying my heart out the night that I realized that the people I love will someday be taken away from me whether I liked it or not.
Michael David Rosenberg or better known by his stage name Passenger, sings in the famous song, Let Her Go:
But you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
And that is how most of us feel. We do not realize the warmth of the love that the people around us constantly shower on us. Until the snow comes and buries them. Literally.
After crying my heart out that night, I made a commitment and I want to challenge you to make one today too.
Instead of having regrets, let’s actually do something about this problem. Today, let us make a commitment to spend time with the people who truly matter the most to us. They will not be around forever despite what we like to think. The fact is one day our grandparents, parents, friends or even siblings will not be around anymore. Here are two things we can do to have less regrets later on in life:
- Stop waiting for the right time to show someone you love them and you care about them. As Asians, we do not express our feelings well most of the time. But, that is not an excuse! Instead, make an effort to do small things or small gestures that will brighten up their days. It makes a difference. It really does.
- Give someone your time. In this age of online messaging and social media, we have lost sight of this truly important gift. Yes, we post cool pictures of our friends on their birthdays (which may be considered as the first step mentioned above) but we do not actually give them our time. Give someone your time. It’s the best gift you can give. This is a fact because time is finite. All of us only have a certain number or years, days, hours, minutes and seconds. Therefore, how we spend our time determines how we spend our lives. Giving someone your time means you actually spend time to listen to someone, to share in their struggles, to offer advice or even to be there for them physically. It does not mean you have to go to the mall and watch a movie with them. Sometimes, being there with someone is enough.
Remember, investing in relationships always gives the best returns—Da Ruey
Thank YOU for reading.
*this post has been reposted on Malaysianstudent.com. View the reposted version HERE*
Top five regrets of the dying by The Guardian
If it’s possible, I would like to encourage all of you to watch this movie titled: The Kid from The Big Apple. Here’s the trailer: