What Will You Regret When You’re Old?

A close friend of mind lost a family member yesterday. As is often the case with death, especially when it’s unexpected, it gives one pause to reflect on life. In today’s society, we’re constantly reminded to “have no regrets” and “live life to the fullest” at every turn, it seems. Thing is, we’re human. To have regrets and feel disappointment about past failures or missed opportunities is completely natural; not having these feelings would make you alien.

While it would be nice to say “I’ll have no regrets when I’m old, baby!” the truth is probably a little closer to “I hope I have no regrets when I’m older.” In one of those ubiquitous lists you see pop up from time to time, I just happened to have one sent to me this morning entitled “Those Top 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old.” It may sound shallow considering the scope of profound insights on the list, but No. 21 (Neglecting your teeth) hit me hard because I’ve seen too many people suffer from problems with their teeth when they get older, and even in a country with “universal health care,” dental work is not included. As someone who once had a nerve explode in his tooth and ended up in the ER, I can assure you it was a poignant reminder to be grateful for healthy teeth.

Personally — and in step with the theme of this blog — if I had to add a No. 38 to that list it would be “Read that one book you’ve always wanted to read/been told you have to read.” For some, that might be a Herculean effort like the Old Testament and the New Testament. Maybe it’s a classic such as War and Peace or Wuthering Heights. Perhaps it’s something lighter: Watership Down or Charlotte’s Web. For me, No. 38 would definitely be Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 literary triumph extraordinaire, The Prophet.

On this day, a somber Sunday when the weather is begging me to stay inside, I’ll take comfort in the things I have accomplished on that list and be grateful, more than anything else, that I have my health. And my teeth.




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