Two years ago, in response to a piece listing the most frequent death bed regrets of the dying, I listed what I thought would be my most likely death bed regrets. There were:
- I did not travel enough.
- I never pole vaulted again after high school.
- I did not spend enough time with Clara.
- I did not get into enough fist fights.
- I started publishing novels too late in life and did not have a chance to tell all my stories.
Looking at this list two years later, it holds up surprisingly well. I have still not traveled nearly enough, I have yet to pole vault (though I may do so in the near future), I never feel like I spend enough time with Clara, and I still have a pile of story ideas clamoring for a place on the page.
In terms of fist fights, however, I may need to change my thinking a bit. When I was younger, I fought a lot, and though there was always inherent danger involved, the adrenaline rush, the primal nature of hand-to-hand combat, and my surprising ability to take a punch and remain calm in the midst of violence always made fighting a thrill for me.
Then I grew older and fighting ceased to be a part of my life. There were simply fewer and fewer instances in which people wanted to throw down.
Actually, fighting didn’t entirely stop. I punched a guy last year in an effort to break up a fight at the local gym, but that was a single sucker punch. Hardly a fight at all.
And perhaps I’m lucky that this was all the fight amounted to. Slate’s Brian Palmer recently wrote a piece about how easy it is to kill a man in a fistfight:
It happens more than twice a day, on average. Fists and feet were responsible for 745 murders in 2010, or 5.7 percent of all murders that year, according to FBI statistics.
Though Palmer goes on to explain that although most of these deaths are the result of the continued beating of the victim once he is unconscious, single blows to the head and chest have also resulted in death.
Although I may regret the lack of fist fights in my life, perhaps it is a regret that I should more readily accept. As he father of a three-year old and a baby on the way, there is no need for me to risk my life or the life of another human being in order to enjoy a brief adrenaline rush or demonstrate my proficiency at fisticuffs.
Best of all, in the two years since I first assembled my list of death bed regrets, I cannot think of another regret to add to my list, and the list of most common death bed regrets still do not apply to me.
Yes, I’ve made no progress in eliminating any regrets, but I have yet to add any to my list. A small victory.
Not that I plan on ever dying, but it makes for an interesting means of examining one’s life.