Friday, February 3, 2012
Guardian, an article about the things that dying people regret. In summary:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all."
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
"This came from every male patient that I nursed."
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others"
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice"
It amazes me how unaware most people are of what they will feel at the end of their lives. Much of what I do is done in the knowledge that life is short, there is only one of it, and most of the things we choose to think are important, do not in fact matter in the slightest. It is easy enough, it shouldn't require a greater than average imagination or intelligence, to use how you will look back on it as a criterion for making choices, but very few people do it, and so they reach the end of their lives with a sense of disappointment and waste.
Perhaps I shall also feel that sense of waste, perhaps I have not made the right decisions, despite thinking about them this way, perhaps I am wrong. I certainly haven't always done, and don't always succeed in doing, what I decide I should do. But I do know that 'because it's Thursday', is a bad reason for polishing the floor, that work is for paying for life, that you are never as tired as you think you are, and that what other people think you should do is part of them, and means nothing to you.
There is much we have little choice in, even we lucky ones, but getting the rest of it wrong, through laziness, cowardice or lack of imagination, will cause us to suffer at the end of our lives. It can be avoided. I think.