Say It … Just Say It!
by Stephen Doherty
March 12th, 2023
“Always tell someone how you feel, because opportunities can be lost
in the blink of an eye … but regret can last for a lifetime. -Unknown
Is there a more burdensome yoke to bear than the weight of some authentic and meaningful feedback to the people in your life that matter? Is there a greater paradox than the difficulty we experience conveying priceless feelings and emotions that would only bring joy and satisfaction to recipient and giver alike? How many examples and anecdotes of losing forever those precious opportunities do we need before we truly understand the precariousness and fragility of these imbedded sentiments?
Let’s face it. As human beings, we don’t have a particularly good track record of aligning the timing of opportunities with the inclination to seize them. It’s a cosmic mystery – it truly is. It often reminds me of a passage in the Bible, Romans I think, that asks the simple question, “Lord – why do I do that which I do not want to do and do not do that which I want to do and should do.” (Paraphrased) Additionally, the “human condition” has an almost pathological resistance to deeply giving of one’s self in sincere and authentic ways.
Movies and stories abound of people possessed of a burning desire to share deeply held emotions and feelings with someone important in their life. Most of these end with spirits broken and anguish and regret plaguing the remainder of their existence because they had waited too long – and the opportunity had not just passed – but was gone forever. It boggles the mind. So often, we invite forever heartache rather than step up and express these deeply held and emotionally crucial conveyances.
I think there’s two very human reasons we so often find ourselves in such a sad and difficult predicament. 1) We tend to procrastinate around Steven Covey’s 3rd Quadrant, “Important but not urgent.” We understand the importance and gravity of doing it – but there’s not red flashing lights and sirens around it so we tend to ignore or postpone it. 2) Expressing deeply held sentiments carries with it, always, the risk of a less than stellar response. Being human, we engage in emotional calculus – trying to balance the emotional risks with the necessity of expediency.
Last week, a wonderful friend of mine whom I’d known for over fifty-years, succumbed to cancer. We weren’t everyday friends but we were lifelong friends with history and wonderful memories. On many occassions, during her two-year battle with this scourge of a disease, I had expressed to her just how meaningful and important her life had been to me and that she had graced us all – always – with immeasurable kindness, dignity, and laughter.
She was important. She mattered. She was loved. This gift of conveyance was easily matched by the act of conveying it. Such is the beauty of these gestures. Such is the necessity of these gestures. It didn’t ease her passing, it never does, but it allowed something beautiful to exit with her rather than forever be housed in me as regret.
It’s cliche’ to the point of being corny and overused – but truly, there is no time like the present to reach out and give away a piece of yourself – that has no business residing with you – to its proper owner. Similar to forgiveness, so often the one giving it benefits equally to those receiving it. Pick up the phone or lick a stamp or schedule a coffee. You’ll be awfully glad you did …
“Love only grows by sharing. You can only
have more for yourself by giving it away to others.” -Brian Tracy