In Trinidad and Tobago, there is an energy that transforms our islands into an almost magical land at Christmas. I again find myself outside of Trinidad for Christmas, and so I miss this special brand of magic dearly. Whether one is Christian or not, the end of December can also be a time of reflection. Where has the year gone so quickly? What is in store for us next year? Normal questions indeed. For me, this is a useful time to celebrate the spiritual significance of this holy season and check whether I am where I believe I should be on my own spiritual journey.
It is so easy to get caught up in what my friend Marcus describes as the “day to day things.” So caught up that we forget that there is a God, and we each exist to serve a purpose for which we have each been uniquely created. Yet our “day to day” distractions ensnare us into chasing behind bigger cars, fancier homes, more expensive clothes, gadgets, and the trappings of (what we perceive to be) power. In my younger years reading “the Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, whose story beautifully described one of the biggest challenges facing humanity – an almost insatiable desire to feel better than others. We crave that promotion, to be Manager, Minister, President, Director, etc. – anything to make us feel “better than.” We sometimes lapse into a state where we see all facets of life – even recreation, religious, civil society, or charity organizations – as opportunities to satisfy that desire to be “better than.”
None of us is immune; none of us is perfect. That is why when I comment on politics, in particular, I try not to demonize individuals but rather recognize that those who hold positions of trust are human beings just like you and me. I seriously doubt that I could do much better myself to find myself in a powerful position. After that first experience of being chauffeur driven in some expensive German car with police outriders, I would probably lose my head. So I am reasonably content with who I am, where I am, doing what I do.
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I am by no means religious, but the biblical story of the life of Jesus Christ is multilayered and awe-inspiring. Shamefully, I probably do not pay much attention to this story outside of Christmas and Easter. But it is a story of what is truly important in life and is a story that touches us all on some level. Last month, someone posted a link to a story on death’s top five regrets on their Facebook wall.
It was an excerpt from a book apparently written by someone who worked in palliative care, so their patients were those who had gone home to die. She said that “people grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality” and that “some changes were phenomenal” as “each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance.” My intention behind referencing this article is not to be morbid but quite the opposite. The author explains that “every single patient found their peace before they departed…every one of them” and that “when questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.”
Out of her experience, the author writes about these five most common themes, which were:
- I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me – which was the most common regret of all.
- I wish I did not work so hard – a reminder for those of us who get so caught up in the rat race.
- I wish I had the courage to express my feelings – as someone who enjoys writing, I am quite conscious and try to reach out to anyone I may have wronged.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Again, my intention behind referencing this material was not to be morbid. Still, at a time of the year filled with some reflection level, it is a reminder that life is really about relationships. It is about relationships with each other and with our God. So I wish every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and love.
My name is Derren Joseph, and I love my country and my region. Despite our challenges, I continue to have the audacity of hope in the future of our beloved nation.
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