What’s It All About, Eifla?

michael caineg

As you might imagine (if you’ve given it any thought at all), my retir…retirem..retirement has cut down on my interactions with the real world.  Which in turn has made it monumentally more difficult to find things I feel interested in writing about.  This may be good news for you…but it’s very bad for me. Very bad.

So as part of my now inward-looking mien, I found myself trolling Facebook to see how ny “friends” are faring.  This was, as I expected, a confirmation of my holier than thou attitude about the entire Facebook adventure. And now, after reading so many uplifting posts and seeing more fetal sonograms than are healthy for me, I’m not sure I can still be friends with about half of my “friends”.  But luckily for me, there was a pot of gold at the end of the FB rainbow.  Just as I was about to throw in the towel, I came across a posting by my friend, Neleh, referring to an article in the Guardian written by a palliative care nurse that enumerated the five most common regrets reported by her dying patients. Since I’m always looking for epiphanous moments that will profoundly change my life, I followed the link to the article with the kind of gusto that Carrie had for tracking down Abu Nazir.   And here they are:

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

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I can’t begin to tell you how underwhelmed I was by these bromides.  I sensed that none of these was going to bring me to a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.  Yes, at first glance, they seem to point to the things that are really, really important in one’s life.  But apart from disagreeing with some of the specifics, my cynical side started to realize that the whole concept was a bit fishy.  It takes only a moment to say:  I wish this or I wish that. But there’s a whole lifetime of activity that goes into making a lot of those things happen. It’s a little too facile to say, “I wish it had been otherwise”.  It’s kind of like me swearing off vodka when I’ve had too much; I mean it when I say it, but as soon as the opportunity arises, there’s another martini in my fist. (This analogy is either the converse or inverse…or makes no sense whatsoever.  Hey, I’ve been drinking…you figure it out.)

According to the article, virtually every man interviewed voiced regret #2-I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.  Big surprise!  (I’ve been kind of a goof off my entire life and as little as I’ve worked, even I wish that I had worked less.)  Of course, not working so hard is not always a choice.  Not if you want to eat or have a place to live.  So maybe a sub-regret might be something like, “I wish I had learned to get by on a lot less.”  Good luck in explaining that to your wife and kids.  But after all, you ought to be true to yourself and have the courage to express your feelings.  And if she kicks you out, you can turn to your friends for comfort.

Who knows..that may even allow you to be happier!


One Response to “What’s It All About, Eifla?”

  1. Richard Says:

    You nailed it Neil. Oops!! I mean Lien. I lot to contemplate as I sit here at my desk, working my way into my seventies.

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