Regrets of the dying

Today on Facebook, this link was flying around. I went to read it, thinking it might be thought-provoking, and it was, even if not in the way most people might respond to it.

First of all, let me state that Ms. Ware is quite right in her observations. I have no issue with her list nor her explications. However, I wanted more from her list when I went there. I have worked my whole life not to be one of the mass of men living lives of quiet desperation, and I think I have completely and successfully escaped Ms. Ware’s list. Whatever else happens, I will not look back on my life with those regrets.

So if I expected more, what was it I hoped to find? What will I feel compelled to tell my hospice worker?

I think my biggest regret at the moment is my laziness in getting my work done. Notice that’s not the same as Keat’s “fears that I may cease to be/ Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain.” I’m quite at rest with the idea that I may never get around to everything I might have done. The Symphony may never be written, the Epic Lichtenbergian Portrait may never be completed, and I certainly am not on track to get grass to flourish in the labyrinth. (At the advice of a Home Depot gardening employee, I have fertilized the bare dirt.)

My regret is that I will not have finished things I might have finished because I just didn’t take the time to get them done. Why am I writing this instead of working on Piano Prelude (no fugue) No. 5? As every good Lichtenbergian could tell you, I am writing this so that I don’t have to confront the Piano Prelude. Or the cello sonata. Or the Ayshire Fiddle Orchestra piece. Or the color charts for my painting. Or any of the exercises in Keys to Drawing.

(To assuage my future guilt, I just now went and added two notes to the prelude. I can goof off another 48 hours now.)

Any regrets I might have had, i.e., based on who I was even five years ago, are invalid. Those who have known me for a while might think I would have regrets about my organizational successes and failures: NCTC, GHP, Newnan Crossing, Lacuna/William Blake. But no. Those things come and go in any person’s life, and it’s just simple wisdom not to base your idea of a well-lived life on achievements—or not—in those arenas.

I will say that if I come to the end of my life and I’ve never seen/heard William Blake’s Inn performed, I will be disappointed, but that’s not a regret since I have no real control of whether that happens or not.

What else? I’m not a deep thinker, so I may have to settle for this one regret. I think it is a worthwhile one. Let’s see if I can be worthy of it.

One thought on “Regrets of the dying

  1. I too was expecting more when I looked at the list. This seemed to be a generic wish list that one could have made up without talking to dying people.

    Actually I have had days recently when I have contemplated just such a list, as it feels like I am close to the end of my life. I don’t know if I could exclude myself completely from the list, especially with regard to No. 5, letting myself feel happy. I took life too seriously for a long while, but that seems to be a very common trait especially of young people. I think I have done what I wanted and lived my life to the fullest within the limits placed by my body I inhabit. I am finding that “big accomplishments” mean less and less as I grow older. A quote I recently read from Aldous Huxley sums it up nicely for me: It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.’

    P.S. Another Huxley quote just for Dale. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.#8221;

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