Four years ago, I responded to a list of the most frequent death bed regrets of the dying by indicating that I didn’t think any of them would be mine.
Then I listed what I thought would be my most likely death bed regrets.
At the time, they 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.
Two years ago, I revisited this list and decided that the desire for fist fights was probably not wise. Research shows that people get seriously injured and even killed with disturbing regularity due to punches in the head.
Other than the desire to punch someone, the list held up well.
Two years later, I revisit the list again to determine if any changes need to be made.
1. I did not travel enough.
Still a problem. I still haven’t traveled enough. I was recently asked to spend a week in Brazil this summer, teaching storytelling to high school students, and I spent a few days in Indiana last year, but I’m not exactly piling up the miles. The kids are at a tough age to travel, too, and while Elysha is still home with the kids, the funds for travel are limited. But my hope is that when Elysha returns to work and Charlie is a little older, we can begin to make this happen.
2. I never pole vaulted again after high school.
I actually have an idea for a book that would have me pole vaulting again for a season. My agent loves the idea (it might be her favorite of my many book ideas), and I love it, too, so this is a distinct possibility.
3. I did not spend enough time with Clara and Charlie.
I’ve added Charlie to the regret now, but I’ve reached two conclusions about this regret:
Regardless of how much time I spend with my kids, it will never be enough.
Compared to many parents I know, I actually spend a great deal of time with my kids. My teacher schedule allows me to spend many, many days with my kids while most are working, and I spend almost every minute from the time I get home until the time I tuck my kids in bed in their company. So I’m doing okay, I think, but will also never really think so.
4. I started publishing novels too late in life and did not have a chance to tell all my stories.
I can certainly try to write faster, and I am, but there’s no way to recapture lost time. Perhaps there will be a day when I want to retire from teaching and can afford to write fulltime. That may help.
And now for an addition to my list:
5. I didn’t spend enough time outdoors.
As a kid, I spent the vast majority of my childhood outside, and I also spent hundreds of days and nights camping. But it’s been years since I’ve slept under the stars, and even longer since I have gone fishing or canoeing or rock climbing or all of the other things that I loved and still love. I don’t swim often enough. I don’t play basketball enough. I don’t go hiking often enough. Golf brings me outdoors quite a bit, but that’s about it. I’m hoping that my children will find a love for the outdoors like I had as a child, and together, I can find a way to avoid this regret.