Rabat – When he was on his deathbed, he looked back upon his past 57 years and could not hold a clear picture of exactly what it was. He could not tell whether his life was real or an illusion of a dream. After a moment of silence, he closed his eyes and admitted: I do not regret anything in my life more than selling my health and soul in exchange for the small pleasures of cigarettes and other mundane desires.
He opened his heavy eyes and resumed, I recognize this truth, by now, and I know it is too late. Death is approaching and giving me no time to fix my life but some to hope that nobody will have such same regrets on their deathbed. Sickness robbed my body of its health and left me with a sour face. An enemy would not wish me such terrible end, but I realize now that I was my worst enemy. I took for granted my life and abused my vital organs to get temporary relief, and I did not appreciate the miraculous nature of this life. I wasted my life trying to grasp whatever pleasures I could get my hands on – cigarettes, sex, unhealthy food, and countless others that kept me preoccupied with nonsense. I never took the time to know and see myself as I was and to consider living a full and rich life. With age, I thought my desire to smoke and to sin would get diminished. On the contrary, my cravings grew stronger while my body became weaker. By now I am surprised that my health and life held such very low value for me.
I thought I was in control of my life, my health and my money, as it was my choice, and I furiously defended my right to be wrong. Truth be told now, my desires were in control of me. I was a slave to my bad habits and to my own mind serving its urges and desires instead of having my mind serving me – what a difficult pill to swallow in one’s deathbed. I was foolish enough to believe that it was easy to quit smoking and correct my life whenever I wanted to, without recognizing that the more I smoked, and the more I indulged, the harder it got to quit. I was deluded that my happiness consisted of satisfying my small desires. I found out that I was a mere pawn in the chessboard of this life controlled by my unguarded mind. A mind conditioned by propaganda, culture, education, experiences and all other kinds of influences. I could not imagine that a whole life could be wasted in negligence, but it is the case. If I only had one more life to live up to all my aspirations, unfortunately, he said, this thing offers no second chance to losers, and fortunate are the ones who die with no regrets.
What a disappointment. Why I couldn’t love myself enough to make extra efforts, to be aware of my mind’s tricks and be the best I could be? A question I should have asked a long time ago. In fact, I had tried many times to eat healthy, to organize my life and to quit smoking, but each time I had fallen off track and got back to further intensify my old habits. I was, weak, lazy, so shortsighted and impatient. Why after only a few trials and failures I gave up and stopped trying. After all, I am the most important person in my life and I deserved all the love and exertion that could ever be offered, to correct my life. Why I was not able to develop that enormous will and determination to overcome smoking and all my twisted habits. On many occasions I said, I still have time, I will quit in the future. I now see that relying on the future to solve human impurities is a clever game the mind uses to escape. Time is the biggest hindrance to change – it is a deceiver, and it does nothing to bring about positive change.
I did not have the courage to unshackle the chains of my mechanical mind, to understand its tricks and to escape the pitfalls and traps that I laid for myself. Why could I not see clearly by then the effects of my utter dependence on this stimulus, which turned my mind into a dull and insensitive conditioned machine? Why was I not wise enough to be a strong and virtuous enough person to break through this and other bad habits, to be free? That is real freedom and real love which anyone can embrace in his life. I personally wish that I had smoked no cigarette in my life, but I cannot tell you or anybody else to quit smoking, unless you yourself want to. You will see the truths at last, on your deathbed. But, my sincere advice for you is to be brave enough to face all sickness, regrets, and a life wasted like mine on trivial desires when no time is left to change. Be brave and look inward at the constant and everlasting conflict inside, raising the bitter questions about how you should be and how you actually are. Be prepared to die discontented with yourself and way inferior to that which you expected.
There are only two choices in life: you either take full responsibility of your life, or you play the victim. In the second case, you invent all kinds of excuses to justify your behaviors; you can blame others, circumstances, bad luck and even your genetics. But believe me, no matter how crooked and clever your thoughts are, they will not save you from realizing, at some point, the bitter truth that it’s in your hands and nobody else’s to quit smoking and any other bad habit. Don’t let your mind deceive you, because this is what it has been doing for thousands of years, and it can perform the most extraordinary tricks to keep this demanding and subjugating pattern, simply because it has created it.
Bear in mind, that death is after tomorrow and not as distant as the mind makes it look. So, I must inquire, to what extent you do think can repeat and perpetuate this pleasure? I guarantee that eventually it will turn into pain – it is unavoidable. Why? Because pleasures get bigger, and more insatiable, and they always require greater fulfillment. It will be always harder to get the same delight as yesterday’s, thereby fueling this desire to get the maximum pleasures for senses and sensations. Perpetuating these patterns will only build stronger illusory walls to protect this way of life, a life that nobody will be proud of in their deathbed. With tears falling out, he closed his eyes and muttered: while it is too late for me, I can offer the world nothing but my deepest regrets, and I wish it would help you to be the maker of your life, the builder of your destiny, and the master of yourself.
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