A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted an article about the “37 Things You’llRegret When You’re Old.” Well, I am old . . . at least that is what my children keep telling me. I am old . . . if slowing inching beyond the double nickels is old, I am old. Since I am old . . . and, since it is nearly the start of a new year and there is the annual obligation to improve one’s self . . . this article caught my attention . . . I wanted to know what the 37 things were that I should make every attempt at avoiding in my golden years.
I will attempt to keep this short . . .
Number one on the list . . . not traveling when you had the chance. I can honestly say that since I rarely had the chance to travel, I really do not have any regrets about traveling. Oh, there was that one chance that I had to go to England with my sister, but my mother got sick . . . we never took the trip. Since then, my sister has offered me another chance at it . . . it just hasn’t panned out yet. Besides, I live in a wonderful, expansive area of the world . . . Montana. I have not even scratched the surface of where I live . . . there is so much to explore here . . . so much that I want to see. I do not regret having traveled more . . . the fact is, I have traveled a lot more than the average person . . . and, the opportunities have not always been there. No regrets here!
Number two . . . not learning another language. This one made me laugh out loud. I am a typical American in that I have not yet even mastered the language of my heritage . . . learn another language? First, let me master the one I am supposed to be speaking and writing now. I took the obligatory couple of years of foreign language in high school and college . . . and, nope, I cannot remember a word of any of it. My only question is: does sign language count? Nope, no regrets with this one!
Number three . . . staying in a bad relationship. Define relationship. With all the relationships I have ever had, there has been good with the bad . . . the key to it all is how does one respond . . . how does one relate . . . to the situation whether it is good or bad? It all adds up as experience and growth in the end. I have always gotten something out of the relationships I have had . . . I have never slammed the door . . . there is always a crack in the door for what might be. Nope, no regrets here either!
Number four . . . forgoing sunscreen. I did not get the nickname “Casper” for having the best tan in the neighborhood. This is a partially a vanity issue . . . partially a health issue . . . I cover up, wear hats, but I probably live life too dangerous . . . I don’t always remember the sunscreen. It is okay because I do not have a problem with wrinkles . . . I earned them. I have always had moles . . . they don’t bother me . . . they add a little color to my milky white skin. Sunscreen as a regret—nope!
Number five . . . missing the chance to see my favorite musicians. I got over that one after my senior year in high school after I missed seeing Paul McCartney and Wings one night, and Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, and Jackson Brown the next night. Yeah, free tickets too! But, that is okay . . . I saw KISS, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, David Bowie, Styx, Mott the Hoople, Areosmith, Joni Mitchell, Dave Mason, John Prine, and a few others during my senior year. Since then I have seen countless others over the years with my last concert being the Avett Brothers a few months ago . . . I love music and will take what I can get . . . even if it is just listening to my church’s choir on Sunday morning. No regrets on this one.
Number six . . . being scared to do things. Okay, I will admit that there have been things that I have been scared to do throughout my life . . . but, I am still here. Jumping off the roof of the house at age ten . . . glad I didn’t do it. Get the picture . . . I am still here. Fear has kept me here. Nope, no regret here.
Number seven . . . failing to make physical fitness a priority. I am too old for this stuff . . . my bones hurt just thinking about it. I spent my whole life wondering if I was ever going to put weight on, and now that I have (granted it might be a little more than I should have) . . . I am going to keep it for a while. Naw, I don’t regret doing a little more physical fitness . . . but, this one might end up snapping me in the butt!
Number eight . . . being defined by gender roles. Number twenty-eight . . . letting myself be defined by cultural expectations. Number fifteen . . . caring too much about what other people think. Okay, I lumped these three together. First of all, I really do not care to be defined by labels and generalizations like race, age, gender, etc. I am who I am, as God created me, for better or worse . . . it does not matter what my gender is or what the expectations of my culture are or what anyone else thinks. All that matters, in my opinion, is whether or not I am living up to who God created me to be. God is the only one I have to please in this endeavor . . . and, the only way that is going to happen is if I live up to who God created me to be. Nope, no regrets on these three.
Number nine . . . not quitting a terrible job. Well, I have quit jobs . . . especially if they were not what I was expecting or I was not what they were expecting. I do not have a tough time quitting jobs, but I never quit a job until I have another job. That is about the only reason I have stuck with a terrible job longer than I should. Quitting a terrible job is not hard . . . no regrets there.
Number ten . . . not trying harder in school. Let’s see . . . thirteen years and a high school degree . . . four years and a bachelor degree . . . three years and a master’s degree . . . two more years and another master’s degree . . . countless workshops, conferences, retreats, seminars . . . no, I think I have worked hard when it came to my education. No regrets here!
Eleven . . . not realizing how beautiful I once was. Hmmm . . . never thought about this before. I guess that is a matter of opinion . . . beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I have always thought of myself as “okay” . . . true, I am no Brad Pitt . . . but neither am I a Marty Feldman. Besides, the older I get, the better I was . . . including my looks. No regrets.
Number twelve . . . being afraid to say “I love you.” I am probably guilty of this one . . . guilty because I just assume people know and understand that I love them. I just don’t say it often enough . . . and, apparently, saying “ditto” is not good enough. I do not regret this one, I just need to practice saying it more often.
Number thirteen . . . not listening to your parents’ advice. Number twenty-two . . . missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die. Problem with this one is that I did listen to my parents’ advice . . . I did have the opportunity to ask my grandparents questions. One got me into trouble . . . the other got me the request to go ask my parents. If there is a regret it is that I did follow some of the advice my parents gave me (a bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology), and I asked way too many questions of my grandparents. No regrets.
Number fourteen . . . spending my youth self-absorbed. Yeah, so what? Name me one youth who didn’t. It is a part of the journey of life. I don’t regret my years of self-absorbsion . . . that is why I blog now. Kind of trying to recapture those years of being self-absorbed. Regret it? No, I relish it because it has made me who I am today.
Number sixteen . . . supporting others’ dreams over my own. Hey, look at number fourteen . . . no regrets here.
Number seventeen . . . not moving fast enough. No one ever accused me of being a speed demon . . . when I ran or in life. One of the symbolic gifts given to me throughout my life was the turtle . . . I have lots of these little turtles given to me. Turtles are slow . . . turtles are anxious . . . but, they are wise. Nope, I have never been accused of being fast and the speed at which I have moved through life has been perfect thus far . . . look at me today. I am further along than I was yesterday, a year ago, five years ago, even a decade ago . . . shoot, I am kicking the crud out of where I was when I was born. No regrets.
Number eighteen . . . holding grudges, especially with those I love. Number twenty-nine . . . refusing to let friendships run their course. Number thirty-four . . . getting caught up in needless drama. These three . . . well, I do hold grudges, but most of the people who I hold grudges against probably don’t even know it . . . so, I don’t waste a whole lot of time over these. Nor do I worry about friendships running their course . . . nature seems to take care of that. I don’t need the drama. I avoid these with a passion . . . I don’t regret when they happen . . . I just get pissed off that I wasted any time with them.
Number twenty-one . . . neglecting my teeth. I brush several times a day. I floss . . . well, I use toothpicks . . . and, I cannot stand dentists. But, I take care of my teeth. Again, this is partly a vanity issue, partly a health issue. I don’t worry about this . . . no regrets. My chompers still work quite well, thank you.
Number twenty . . . not volunteering enough. Have you seen what they pay me to work at the university I work at . . . pretty close to volunteering. I don’t buy this one. Nope—no regrets.
Number twenty-three . . . working too much. This one made me laugh out loud a second time . . . no one ever accused me of working too much. What is to regret?
Number twenty-four . . . not learning how to cook one awesome meal. Number twenty-seven . . . never mastering one awesome party trick. The truth is, I can cook . . . whether or not what I cook is awesome does not matter. I am still here. I do have one awesome party trick . . . I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue . . . how awesome is that. I have about as much awesomeness as I can handle in my life . . . I don’t need any more. No regrets.
Number twenty-five . . . not stopping enough to appreciate the moment. Shoot, life is too beautiful not to stop . . . no regrets here.
Number twenty-six . . . failing to finish what you start. Unfortunately, I was raised to finish what I started . . . haven’t always successfully done that, but I try. On the other hand, there have been a few things I wish I had started, but hey, Bill Gates didn’t like any of my ideas. No regrets here either.
Number thirty . . . not playing with my kids enough. As the children were growing up, I think the kids wish I didn’t play with them so much . . . that I go out and find my own friends. Nope, I played with my kids plenty. The problem is now they wish I would play with them more often. But, I have no regrets here.
Number thirty-one . . . never taking the big risk (especially in love). Define risk. Each and every morning when I get out of bed . . . I am risking living. Living is pretty big as the alternative is death. I think that qualifies as being a risk-taker. As far as love, well . . . it is not regret . . .
Not taking the time to develop contacts and networks . . . Number thirty-two. Not a problem . . . I know people, people know me . . . now whether or not they are the “right” people, I don’t know. What I do know, as an introvert, I have more contacts and networks than I want . . . I do not regret having more.
Number thirty-three . . . worrying too much. Yeah, I do this. I worry too much, but that worry has kept me alive. I enjoy being alive. No regrets . . . worry lets me know that I care.
Number thirty-five . . . not spending enough time with loved ones. Hey, we are talking family here . . . what do family and fish have in common? After three days they begin to smell. I spend plenty of time with family . . . they may disagree, but we still talk to each other. Nope, no regret.
Number thirty-six . . . never performing in front of others. I am a minister . . . a preacher . . . who preaches at least fifty-two times a year. No regrets.
Number thirty-seven . . . not being grateful sooner. Yeah, there is irony in this one. If you have read this far, you are probably wondering why in the world isn’t he done? Well, the end is coming . . . I am grateful and have been grateful most of my life . . . and, now you can be too.
So, there you have it. The thirty-seven things we will regret when we get old. The bottom line is that of the thirty-seven things, only one was a “maybe” regret, and the other thirty-six were not regrets. The only thing I did not mention was number nineteen . . . not standing up for yourself. I probably do not do this often enough, but you know what? In the end it all works out . . . maybe it is karma, maybe it is just dumb luck . . . but, things always seem to work out in the end.
The amazing thing about this list was that over 141 thousand people shared this list on Facebook . . . 549 thousand liked it on Facebook . . . six thousand tweeted it on Twitter . . . and, I wrote about it. I think the problem is we spend too much time worrying about things no matter what age we are . . . we just need to live life, follow the adventure, and be all that we can be in the moment that we are living. I do not want to enter into my older years filled with regret for things that do not matter. That is a waste of time. What matters is the present moment . . . that is all that any of is promised . . . the present moment. I will not be making resolutions for the upcoming year. I will stick to the one that I made years ago . . . I resolve to not make another resolution, but to live to the best of my abilities in the present moment. We would all do well to do so.
By the way, I apologize for the length of this blog . . . but, I hope you get the point. LIVE!! Regret . . . nope!