Every now and then one of those links posted on Facebook really hits home.
Last month a friend in Sacramento, California posted a link to an article written by a nurse who, for many years, worked with people who were dying. The article recounts five regrets people make on their deathbed.
There is nothing here that is particularly surprising in itself. But the fact that these regrets are consistent is what hit me. Two in Particular:
Number 4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Old friends that I have let slip away, or been too "busy" to contact.
For a year or two, I have been yearning for contact with old friends, those with whom I shared life in childhood, late teens, twenties. There is one in particular that lived in my neighborhood and with whom I went to school: grammar through high. This article inspired me to take action. I Facebooked her and set up a time to visit on the phone, and we have done that twice in a month. She and I have made a commitment to be in more regular touch and agreed on a phone call after the holidays.
And there is a man with whom I spent a significant part of my twenties hanging out. We shared a love of music, singers, laughter and fun. Haven't been in touch with him voice-to-voice for too long. I haven't made that call yet, but I will.
Number 1: I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. The regret most common to all. When life is almost over, it becomes clearer how many dreams have slipped by the wayside.
I cannot say I have let many dreams slip by. Certainly none that I regret. But that thing about the courage to live a life true to myself — not what others expect of me — that is a whole other story. I am assailed by the concern over others' opinions of whatever I may do, wear, say, or not do. Not always do I yield to the worry; often I just plow head on. But there are times when I do not.
Last night I watched a program on PBS starring a brilliant woman who succeeds at being true to herself — Renée Fleming. Cheered and respected around the world in more countries than you would imagine for her sublime soprano voice and her superb singing of opera. She could rest on those laurels and the highest honors awarded to such a talent. But no. Not Renée Fleming. Not the Renée Fleming who is true to herself and her dreams.
Christmas in New York is a new CD, first ever holiday recording for Ms. Fleming, and also the special program aired last night on Arizona PBS (an exquisite production, I must say!). Jazz, popular, traditional and brand new songs of the season. The superstar soprano singing easy, swinging, tender, and touching tunes. Some known to all of us from childhood on, some not. Sung by Ms. Fleming herself. Sung with friends and colleagues in duet: Kurt Elling and Gregory Porter from Jazz, Kelli O'Hara from Broadway, and Rufus Wainwright from Folk, Alternative, Rock. All presented in a glorious setting: New York City at Christmastime.
I know that Renée Fleming has received negative criticism over the years for trying to "crossover" from the world of opera to the world of popular song. I have friends who don't like it, resent it. But what many people do not know is that Renée Fleming is the child of two music teachers, and all kinds of music were played and sung and performed in their home from the day one. While studying at the Crane School of Music, State University of New York in Potsdam, Ms. Fleming sang jazz on weekends at an off-campus bar. One night she received an offer from great jazz saxophonist Illinois Jacquet to go on tour as featured vocalist with his big bandóbefore she made the decision to follow the path of singing opera. So, there is no crossover here. In singing pop, rock, jazz, folk, Renée Fleming is singing the music she has sung all her life. And singing it with beauty, heart, fun, consummate musicianship, grace and ease. True to herself. Now that is inspiring!
Visit Renée Fleming: http://www.reneefleming.com
Visit PBS: http://www.pbs.org
Credits: The article on 5 Regrets first appeared on inspirationandchai.com via Real Farmacy.