I don’t ever plan on dying, but if I did, I would hope to die without too many regrets. A palliative care worker recently wrote about the top five regrets that she heard from dying patients. They are:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This should not be a problem for me. In fact, I may end up wishing that I had been willing to conform a little more often over the course of my never-ending lifetime, but we’ll see. Either way, this is a theme that runs through all of my books and one that is extremely important to me, so I’m inclined to think that this would be the last thing that I would find myself regretting on my hypothetical deathbed.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
This might be a problem for me, though I am more inclined to think that I would regret the number of hours spent working rather than the amount of effort that I put forth. While I enjoy the work that I do a great deal, I work a lot. But will I regret the hours spent teaching and writing? Maybe…
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
This, like the first regret, is not going to be an issue for me. Once again, I may find myself regretting the reverse. I may end up lamenting my lack of tact and restraint at times but certainly not the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Also not a concern for me. With very little family, my friends have come to play an enormous role in my life, and I stay in close touch with them on a regular basis. A friend recently commented on the large number of friends that Elysha and I have, and I feel blessed to be so fortunate.
And besides, with Facebook, who can’t stay in touch with friends these days?
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I wasn’t sure what this meant. The author explains:
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
This is stupid.
Happiness is a choice?
Pretending to be content?
Who are these people?
I have done a lot of stupid things in my life, and I will continue to act stupidly on an absurdly regular basis, but failing to seek happiness and not allowing myself to laugh or be silly will not be included on the rather long list.
If I had to predict my regrets right now, they would be:
1. I did not travel enough.
2. I never pole vaulted after high school.
3. I did not spend enough time with my children.
4. I did not get into enough fist fights.
5. I started publishing novels too late in life and did not have a chance to tell all my stories.
Thankfully, I can correct most of these if given enough time. And since I have no intention of dying, I should have plenty.
My only concern is spending enough time with my children. I fear that no matter how much time I spend with them, it will never feel like enough.
I’m not sure who will give me a chance to vault again, but perhaps stop by track practice at a local high school someday soon and ask if I could give it a shot. All I need to find is a coach who doesn’t worry about liability issues and I’ll be set.
So what if it’s been twenty years since I vaulted. I can probably still clear opening height. Right?