“Have you ever sailed across an ocean, Donald? On a sailboat surrounded by sea with no land in sight, without even the possibility of sighting land for days to come? To stand at the helm of your destiny?
I want that one more time.
I want to be in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, to feel the surge as ten racehorses go thundering by.
I want another meal in Paris at L’Ambroisie in the place des Vosges.
I want another bottle of wine and then another.
I want the warmth of a woman in the cool set of sheets.
One more night of jazz at the Vanguard.
I want to stand on summits and smoke Cubans and feel the sun on my face for as long as I can.
Walk on the Wall again.
Climb the Tower.
Ride the River.
Stare at the frescos.
I want to sit in the garden and read one more good book.
Most of all I want to sleep. I want to sleep like I slept when I was a boy.
Give me that. Just one time.
That’s why I won’t allow that punk out there to get the best of me, let alone the last of me.”
This is one of the best monologues I have ever heard in a TV series. In case you don’t know, it was spoken spectacularly by Raymond “Red” Reddington – AKA James Spader, in The Backlist.
It got me.
Really got me.
It also got me thinking. In it, he was about to die. And yes – it’s not real, it’s TV….but the idea and the emotion behind it IS real.
Why is it always in the face of a tragedy that we begin to feel alive? Why is it only when you are staring down the barrel of a gun (literal or metaphorical) that you rekindle your forgotten lust for your life?
The irony behind it. You can be about to face your death and it may be the most alive you have ever felt; do you have to be facing the worst to feel the most passion to live?
That recognition that it could all be taken away from you in a second is enough to see you make promises to yourself about how things will change.
Why does it take that sense of fear, that immediate threat for us to promise things will change?
Tragedy around us sets of this catalyst of thoughts, behaviours and comments as we have just been reminded that life isn’t guaranteed.
So since when did we actually forget that life is temporary? And why does it only take threat, tragedy and loss to make us up wake up to it again?
When threat is experienced along with it comes revived spirit, the messages appear in droves like “You only live once” and “Live your life for you” and with them come this sense of responsibility, because it brings with it that determination in us not to let life become a waste.
Ordinarily we shove this reality under the carpet as we try not to think about how it could all end sooner than we think, it’s only when it’s there, that reality of how precious life can be, when it’s placed right there in front of us and it become too real for us to ignore, it’s only then that we get jolted from this slumber of existence, like being pinched in the night.
We put our phones down, we switch off Facebook, we take a look at ourselves and we turn to our loved ones and we imagine what it would be like to be facing that reality, right now.
What would you feel?
What would YOUR monologue say?
Write it. Just have a go and see what comes up. You will probably become emotional because you are letting yourself be TRUE in admitting what actually means more to you than anything else….
It will probably be different to what you think on the surface.
It will probably be different to what you portray to others.
Because I’m asking you to really imagine that you are about to leave it all. Not just go away for a week, when you go it’ll be forever and I want you to really imagine that.
When you are floating up above your body (whatever your religious beliefs here are) what will you regret?
What will you regret spending so much time on?
What will you regret not spending enough time on?
How would you want your life to be defined?
Who WERE you?
What did you experience?
But look, HEY, WAKE UP — you are still here!
You are not about to die (I sincerely hope) and therefore you still have that chance to make that monologue your truth.
The only questions you need to ask now are..
Are you happy with who you are, now?
Are you happy with where your life is, now?
Are you happy…. now?
If you can’t answer these with a YES, chances are you are telling yourself that there is “plenty of time” and that you can “plan for change tomorrow….” but what would it mean if you were to find yourself staring at the reality that there is no tomorrow?
There is only ever today. Yesterday has gone. We have no guarantee tomorrow will arrive.
You’d be repeating your monologue in your head. With regret that you didn’t start that process of change today.
I will share part of mine…
“Have you ever stood in a place of such breath taking beauty that you feel nature is granting you a special privilege for just letting you stand there?
I want that one more time.
I want to laugh so hard that I feel like I can’t breathe, while tears roll down my face and my stomach hurts.
I want to sail out on a boat for miles out to sea and find a picture postcard snorkel spot and to swim with the fish in their own territory one more time.
I want to lay on a beach and get so engrossed in a novel that the sun sets & I have to wrap myself up in my sun-warmed towel to stay warm.
I want to hear the cork pop on a bottle of champagne and dance in the moonlight
There are so many more….these things I maybe can’t do today, or even tomorrow.
So I think, what else would appear in my monologue that I can do today?
I want to tell my loved ones I love them every day
I want to make others smile as often as I can and as genuinely as I can
I want to smile fondly at all the memories I have with my friends
I want to appreciate the special times with my family
I want to create more fond memories…
I want to tell my husband that I adore him
I want to let go of worries and have fun, LOTS more fun!
I want to live a life that is true to my values..
I want to be forever confident that I lived my life as ME..
These things I can do. And the experiences I mention, well, each one experienced from here on in will be seen as a blessing.
The biggest and most stupidest regret in this life would be to have acknowledged what our very own monologue would include and then to ignore it with the hope we’d never have to face it.
I don’t want that to happen, I don’t want that to happen to you either so this is why I’m asking you to write your own now
Once it’s there it’s there. In the open. In your mind. It’s been acknowledged.
If you are confident that you have all the time in the world, then feel free to ignore it and take that risk..
The only one in charge of that decision is you.