August 29, 2010

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

The #1 regret of the dying. (Via Instapundit.)

Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you need death staring you in the face to take that question seriously?

73 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

I was walking once with an elderly Finnish pastor who sang songs with the old and dying every morning and heard their confessions. He said the #1 joy of the elderly was to have something that made their lives distinctive, something they could brag about, something that distinguished them from others. It could have been a long trip, or a weird love affair, or a book they wrote, or something that they dared to do, and did, and succeeded at. Somehow this made their death bearable.

I guess it's kind of the reverse of your #1.

but will this mean that the U Wisconsin Bomber will feel satisfied as he dies?

rhhardin said...

The most popular last words on cockpit voice recorders are "Oh shit."

LAWLOL said...

I think people evaluate this every day, but they also think that at some point in the future they will alter their trajectory to be more true to themselves. In reality, it's far too easy to put that off again and again.

traditionalguy said...

Courage is a highly valuable ingredient without which little of value is possible in a life. Fear is the enemy that faith confronts daily and defeats. Knowing that first hand, the freedom to speak faith boldly and to worship freely became our founders' First Amendment standard...not freedom from bold faith speech and freely worshiping as the now dead liars on the Supreme Court suddenly one day in 1962 made their first amendment to the original First Amendment of 1789.

fivewheels said...

One way to help others avoid this final regret is to stop giving them crap about making unconventional choices. I am currently in the crap-taking stage (from some quarters), but my plan has always been to avoid the regret.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I don't think we should pay attention to any of this. The time we spend dying will hopefully be very short, it's silly to live your whole life just so you don't feel regret those last few minutes, hours, or days. Better to just not feel regretful in the first place. And stay away from whoever wrote that post, because they're going to make your last moments on Earth miserable!

edutcher said...

I always saw my job as a way to make a living. It wasn't my life.

My life is, and was, when I got home to The Blonde. I had friends at work, some very good friends whom we know socially, but who I was wasn't defined in the main by what I did.

I noticed that some of The Blonde's patients were the type that lived for their jobs and she was always a little amazed when they couldn't believe that the company could get along without them.

PS Excellent point, tg. As was quoted in a book about Merrill's Marauders, "Courage is the secret of a happy heart".

HT said...

I interpret it as a moment to moment thing. It's difficult not to slip into fear-based thinking (excuse the jargon) just going through the day. And especially when there's a crisis or even a minor setback. It's tough, but it's good to be reminded of this.

Moose said...

Regret is probably the strongest intoxicant there is. It will make you say, do and think things totally outside what you'd normally do given the right circumstances. Whether or not thats good depends on the circumstances.

Deathbed statements like these can be either the most profound things you've ever heard or the most inexplicable.

ricpic said...

When you're old the verdict is in. What good the if only business? But #5 - giving yourself permission to be happy - is interesting. Bukowski wrote poems about finally easing up on himself late in life. There's one poem where he does nothing but laze around his pool all day feeling good about it remembering all the years put in at the Post Office.

tradguy is right about fear being the enemy. In age there's the added problem of not wanting to move your bones. Having courage is great but the old also have to overcome inertia.

Sixty Grit said...

If anything, I will regret having not worked harder and accomplished more. I do a lot, but have plenty more I desire to accomplish, and that will require working ceaselessly, and remaining on task. Today I took down 4 trees - good work, it resulted in some raw materials for products already ordered, but I need to accomplish that lever of productivity every day. Need a source of caffeine that contains neither HFCS or too many calories. Hmm...

Bob_R said...

Or maybe the #1 fantasy of the dying is that if the had only done something else they would have had happier, more fulfilled lives. "I coulda been a contender!" No. Sorry, Terry. You were probably going to be a bum either way.

If it makes someone happy in their last days, good for them. But all of the "last regrets" on that page are really fantasies about a world that was probably never really possible or desirable. People work hard because they want to work hard - most people as a means to an end they desire - others as an end in itself. If you want to dream about tossing it all in and joining a rock band or painting in the South Seas...well, you know damned well that you would probably have been miserable.

Elliott A said...

I don't think that we are meant to do things to later avoid regret, rather recognize how much it really means to all of us to live our lives on our own terms and not someone else's. This is the great light bulb moment that people have when death comes knocking, since there are no second chances at that point. To have lived life on your own terms is a very rare accomplishment. People who do are already at peace with themselves.

Juba Doobai! said...

Me, I'm doing what I want to do. I hated working on Wall Street and doing a 9-5 cuz it was grindingly mind-numbing and I couldn't see myself doing the same thing for 25 years like my mother and cousins. So, I quit the job at the WTC way back when. I hated teaching in the inner cities with a passion! So, I quit doing that and taught in places where kids were receptive. There's a whole world of things to explore out there, and my educational background has made exploration possible. The result? I'm poor. No pension worth writing home about, a slender bank account. However, I've skills and abilities that make it easy for me to fit in everywhere. I've given away my jewelry and such to my nieces cuz it's good to be unencumbered. Being true to yourself comes with a price—you'll never be as comfortable as the people who stuck with the grind, but you'll have lived life your way. Good enough for Frankie, good enough for me.

traditionalguy said...

I was reflecting on the Professor's new life so filled with so many new activities. That is fun, and it expands what she has to offer so that being around her will never be a dull life.

XWL said...

Regrets, always puts me in mind of this song.

deborah said...

Tradguy, I was reflecting on her new life, too. For the first time...really!...I mapquested today's route from Indy to Madison, just to see how long it would take.

Isn't that the saddest thing you ever heard?

The Crack Emcee said...

Yes.

deborah said...

:)

HT said...

I know how Crack would answer (I think I do), but would anyone ever go to a psychic? I have a chance. Friends swear by him (and bristled at my very mild skepticism). I have some questions I'd like to ask him. $75.

David said...

What if doing what others expect is part of being true to yourself?

Most people spend significant time and energy doing "what others expect." So what? It's the way we get along in the world. Our manner of developing self-expectation is largely based on understanding and evaluating the expectations of others, both for ourselves and themselves.

Anyway, a life without some regret was probably not very thoughtful or bold.

The Crack Emcee said...

Tg,

"I was reflecting on the Professor's new life so filled with so many new activities. That is fun, and it expands what she has to offer so that being around her will never be a dull life."

Oh bullshit. Being a liberal, she'll eventually become "dissatisfied" with Meade's life of adventure (just as she did with her first "husband" and my ex tired of being a rock star's wife) and decide that carting her brood to bad concerts is worth your time or interest - which you'll accept it because your own lives are so boring - and it's all subjective, y'know?

All Heil Bullshit!

Heil!

Maguro said...

Doesn't anyone regret being a selfish old bastard on their deathbed anymore?

The Crack Emcee said...

"I know how Crack would answer (I think I do), but would anyone ever go to a psychic? I have a chance. Friends swear by him (and bristled at my very mild skepticism). I have some questions I'd like to ask him. $75."

You'd do much better to donate it to me - you kind of know me - than waste it on some asshole who is clearly an asshole.

Here - just as good - ask me a question and I'll answer as any NewAger would:

Should I leave my spouse? Yes!

Am I GOD? Yes!

Etc.

Pay me.

The Crack Emcee said...

And just so you know:

Psychic Abilities (Not Just For Psychics Anymore)

Revenant said...

This reminds me I need to rewatch my "Dead Like Me" DVDs.

The Crack Emcee said...

Maguro,

"Doesn't anyone regret being a selfish old bastard on their deathbed anymore?"

Not me - NewAge has taught me it's the highest honor one can bestow on oneself.

Lem said...

Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you need death staring you in the face to take that question seriously?

Facing a second DUI this is an excellent question.

HT said...

There's a CD store near downtown. I'll ask them to order your CD and then I'll buy it from them. I hate downloading and buying from the internet.

The link was not about psychics but Julia Roberts being a Hindu.

Pogo said...

I have qualms about taking advice from hospice nurses.


Really? The number one regret of the dying is some goofy New Age sentiment? I call bullshit. Who talks like this? No one, especially not the moribund.

The primary regrets of the dying, after pain and dying itself, are relationship stuff. Makes sense.

But "a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."??
No. Way.
Does anyone outside of San Fransisco actually talk this way.
No.

Dead Julius said...

Our culture plays down the important role of fathers in helping young people see beyond the conformist limits set out for them. A good Daddy is the preventative medicine for this regret.

The religious zeal of our culture plays a part too. Either there's a nice orderly satisfying Christian heaven to look forward to, or there's a nice orderly satisfying New Age oneness to look forward to. Either way, attention is diverted from real life into a fallacy, allowing the opportunity to live a courageous life to pass by.

William said...

I was a skid-row workaholic for about twelve years and a driven worker for another 8-10 yrs after that. The saying is that no one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time in the office. I don't know if that's true. In most of my jobs I was competent and successful. In other areas of life, not so much. My jobs gave my life the illusion of stability and forward progress. My domestic life, not so much. My worst regrets are not from my working life.......I'm sad to say that I only allowed a handful of Victoria Secret models to wrestle in their lingerie for the privilege of pleasuring my passion pylon. Too busy at work. I sometimes think a just God will exact a terrible revenge for my failure to bring a modicum of joy to these poor, dear anorexics. What I'm trying to say here is that the time spent away from work is generally not that productive or pleasant. Tiger Woods is the exception who proves the rule. Men very rarely screw up their lives when they're working overtime.

Maguro said...

Even Frank Sinatra had a few regrets.

Too few to mention, but still.

Pogo said...

Can anyone explain what "a life true to myself" actually means?

Does it involve chaps?

bagoh20 said...

Who the hell cares? You're dying - as in dead - no worries mate - no regrets, gone, done, at peace. Don't screw it up at the very end.

The question is how to avoid regretting tomorrow, or next year.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Pogo: Really? The number one regret of the dying is some goofy New Age sentiment? I call bullshit. Who talks like this? No one, especially not the moribund.

I believed the bullshit, I just assumed this hospice nurse feeds regrets to their patients, hence my advice to stay the hell away from them.

Jason (the commenter) said...

New age people always seem to have so much "negative energy" about them.

The Crack Emcee said...

"I'm sad to say that I only allowed a handful of Victoria Secret models to wrestle in their lingerie for the privilege of pleasuring my passion pylon. Too busy at work. I sometimes think a just God will exact a terrible revenge for my failure to bring a modicum of joy to these poor, dear anorexics. What I'm trying to say here is that the time spent away from work is generally not that productive or pleasant."

William, ypu're my new hero!

seattleWa said...

This is right up there with.."These are jobs Americans don't want". Some libtard meme.

I'm 50+ and my father expressed none of this nonsense before he died. My 85 year old mother hasn't expressed any of these heartaches. She wants to touch great-grandchildren.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jason,

You're the bumper of the day for my site!

Jason (the commenter) said...

The Crack Emcee: You're the bumper of the day for my site!

Woo hoo!

HT said...

Our culture plays down the important role of fathers in helping young people see beyond the conformist limits set out for them. A good Daddy is the preventative medicine for this regret.

Well, that is a loaded comment. I'd love to hear that worked out in more detail.

Good fathers are awfully awfully difficult to find. If not impossible. In any race, culture, in this country. In my own case, my father lit up with landing gear lights the conformist road ahead of me, and shouted out any deviation from that road, ensuring I'd only be an extremely hard worker.

Irene said...

Do you need death staring you in the face to take that question seriously?

No.

I need to look into the eyes of a dog, staring into my face with unconditional love. Then, I know why I am doing what I am doing.

No chai.

traditionalguy said...

The fullness of life seems to be greatly improved rather than limited by the Christian faith that believes the good news that Jesus is alive and well. Tim Tebow was greatly improved at QB for Denver tonight. Tim may need to add fear of NFL linebackers to his faith to keep everything in balance. Courage is necessary for faith because acting in faith takes a big risk by acting on what is not yet seen.

dbp said...

Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you need death staring you in the face to take that question seriously?

Yes. Kind of. When you have 30-40 years of expected life left, it seems like there is plenty of time to do all the things you ever want. So, it is perfectly rational to focus on long time horizon items such as providing for your family and putting money away for retirement.

I don't expect to die next year, so I don't live like today is one of my final days.

bagoh20 said...

"Can anyone explain what "a life true to myself" actually means?"

It's exactly the life you live. It may not be the one you think you wanted, but it is exactly as you made it, with your unique set of circumstances and the choices you made everyday. What could be more true to oneself? Certainly not some ideal you think you could have lived.

Get on with it, accept it, it's yours.

deborah said...

' Being a liberal, she'll eventually become "dissatisfied" with Meade's life of adventure...'

I call bullshit...what's with the 'liberal' stuff? If she were conservative she'd be more likely to stick with him?

Rialby said...

This reminds me of that stupid story that intellectuals like to tell about the management consultant, the island native and the need to work hard so that the native can retire in style to the place he already calls home. Cute story, weak premise. We work hard because it's impossible to live well without doing so.

Rialby said...

One more thing... it is easy to delude one's self into thinking that they could have worked less hard and had the same or a better result. In reality, it would have meant one less trip or one less new food tasted or one less golf game because all of these things cost money. Anti-materialists don't get that.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Can anyone explain what "a life true to myself" actually means?


Proclaiming that you are going to live a "life true to yourself" means you are a self absorbed and a navel gazing waste of space who talks in New Age sound bites.

If you want to be truly be true to yourself, you don't talk about it. You just do it. With humility and quietly and effectively.

Fred4Pres said...

Good advice. Joseph Campbell said it best by "follow your bliss."

jimbino said...

If Ann Lander's Reader Survey is to be believed (http://www.happilychildfree.com/ann.htm), many folks will have regretted having bred and begat children.

JohnG said...

I think my biggest regret will be if, in my dying moments, my joys and sorrows get hijacked and rewritten by some hospice worker in order to bolster their world view. This is right up there with deathbed conversions (I'm with Hitch on the subject).

rdkraus said...

Also calling BS.

As Bill Parcells once said, "You are what your record is."

That's your true self. The other stuff is you deluding yourself that you were better or different.

This is one of the things Ayn Rand got right. A = A. You are your life. If you didn't do "X" you are not "X"

wv: unnow - Wow, that is so not me. LOL.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Screw the expectations of others, I'm wearing shorts!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Fred4Pres said...

Good advice. Joseph Campbell said it best by "follow your bliss."

Works for me.

Der Hahn said...

The Insta-Wife also posted a link to this, and I'll copy part of the comment I made over there. It echoes what Rialby and Bob R said..

You can't change your past, and you will always imagine that some other choice would have made your life perfect because you can never know what obstacles were present on that path.

Everybody plans their life as if it's going to be a vacation to Tahiti only to discover the plane landed in Switzerland. And you've got no return ticket. At that point you can either spend the rest of your life regretting what didn't happen, or figure out how to make the best of it.

Michael Haz said...

I just read that list "One Hundred Things To Do Before You Die."

I was surprised that "Yell For Help" wasn't on the list.

____

My wife and I live like we won't make it through another year. We've both had cancer and heart surgeries. We're winning, but you never know.

That's why, at age 61, we do things like motorcycling up the Haul Road to Deadhorse; wilderness hiking, and next on the list: skydiving.

Life is short; have fun while you can. There's no time left for regrets about the job you didn't get, the big home you couldn't afford, the mistakes that have been made. Put all that out of your head; it occupies space without paying rent.

My favorite expression of late is "it makes no difference tot he universe." Having a bad day? Angry? Feeling sorry for yourself? It makes no difference to the universe. Let go of it and move on.

k*thy said...

Why are you doing what you are doing? Do you need death staring you in the face to take that question seriously?

I did. That was 10 years ago and I’ve come to not regret a single moment that got me to this point.

The statement from the link smacks of self pity. Though I sometimes find myself there, I’ve found it’s a complete waste of time. I like to say that I’ve taken the long way around. Though it was not always the case, I like where my life is, now.

MadisonMan said...

I find myself in agreement with Jason (The Commentor). My suspicion is that this Palliative Care worker is leading the witness when asking questions of the dying.

I sometimes do wish I spent more time in the office, by the way. The office is air conditioned. It's been a long hot summer.

roesch-voltaire said...

Bago nicely summed up:" It's exactly the life you live. It may not be the one you think you wanted, but it is exactly as you made it, with your unique set of circumstances and the choices you made everyday. What could be more true to oneself? Certainly not some ideal you think you could have lived. " At best we can hope to live in the moment whether it being doing hard work to feed the family, or hiking in France- both feed the soul if done with love and attention.

Meade said...

"Facing a second DUI this is an excellent question."

And the excellent answer?

MayBee said...

The time we spend dying will hopefully be very short, it's silly to live your whole life just so you don't feel regret those last few minutes, hours, or days. Better to just not feel regretful in the first place.

Wonderful, Jason.

The time we spend dying is also a time when we don't have to worry much about what the consequences of our choices might be.
Maybe the life you imagine you should have lived would have created a whole new set of regrets.

deborah said...

Excellent, Michael Haz: My wife and I live like we won't make it through another year. We've both had cancer and heart surgeries. We're winning, but you never know.

That's why, at age 61, we do things like motorcycling up the Haul Road to Deadhorse; wilderness hiking, and next on the list: skydiving.


And also, roesch-voltaire:
'At best we can hope to live in the moment whether it being doing hard work to feed the family, or hiking in France- both feed the soul if done with love and attention.'

deborah said...

both feed the soul if done with love and attention

Methadras said...

What is truly courageous is looking at your life, the good and the bad, and everything in between and accepting it for what it is/was and moving on to the next life without nary a complaint. The people who do the ponderous death bed regrets tend to be the ones that deliberately fucked their lives over along with the ones they loved with the full knowledge of it and upon their dying time look back and wonder how they could have gotten away with it, sans the guilt.

Methadras said...

Maguro said...

Doesn't anyone regret being a selfish old bastard on their deathbed anymore?


I certainly won't. Have I made mistakes in my life? You bet, but you know what I learned from those mistakes? Mostly nothing except they caused enough grief for me, not to repeat them again. Oh, I see the benefits to be sure, but the cost/benefit analysis in my head after doing them just isn't there anymore. But you see, you never do that going in. It's only when they get pointed out to you that you realize the true cost of your errors and I don't have that kind of money. :D

Methadras said...

deborah said...

both feed the soul if done with love and attention


Seriously? You do understand you've just uttered one of the biggest loads of horseshit in the NewAge lexicon, don't you? Your soul does not require feeding. Just keep it as clean as possible. That's the best you can hope for. If you want to be a Christian, then get it saved. Otherwise, everything else is meaningless pedestrian, platitude driven idiocy.

wv = antra = Taking the M out of mantra so the ants can drone on without Man getting in the way.

deborah said...

'Seriously? You do understand you've just uttered one of the biggest loads of horseshit in the NewAge lexicon, don't you?'

Whoa, where's the fire, chief? It was a simple metaphor.

Methadras said...

deborah said...

Whoa, where's the fire, chief? It was a simple metaphor.


Metaphors should have meaning. That one was meaningless.

deborah said...

Too bad you feel that way, 'cause now you can't be in the Meaningless Metaphor Club. It sucks being you.

Methadras said...

deborah said...

Too bad you feel that way, 'cause now you can't be in the Meaningless Metaphor Club. It sucks being you.


Great club not to be in. By the way, it does not suck being me because I'm awesome. I was actually called epic once. That made me look at that person like my dog cocking his head at a funny sound. Oh well, tra-la-la-la-la-la.

deborah said...

I bow to the epic Buddha-nature within you. Peace.