“Put things in order before they exist.” — Lao Tzu
They say that before you die you’re haunted by everything you haven’t done in your life — but always wanted to. What a scary thought that is. The idea of facing all of your regrets in a single moment seems worse than any horror movie.
But first we need to differentiate. I think there are two types of regrets. In the first group there are regrets related to only us internally, like: never learned to play an instrument, never travelled the world, never followed my dreams, procrastination and so on.
The second one relates to others: our relationships, our families, wives, husbands, children, fathers, mothers, friends, co-workers, and business partners, but also to people we never met, because we never dared to approach them.
There is a whole bunch of that stuff, and it must be a real drag when it hits you. Just the thought of it makes me want to do all of it in a single day — which, of course, is impossible.
You have no time
So what can we do about it? We, who are still here, who think that all of this is very abstract, a thing far away in the distant future. Well, the first and, in fact, only reason why we don’t do anything about it is because we think — we still got time. We assume, there’s plenty of time left, so why hurry?
Of course, it depends on your age; you may have several decades of time still ahead of you while someone else only a few years, or less. The fundamental problem with time is, you can’t add-on to it. You can buy more gold, build a bigger house, buy a bigger car, but how do you buy more time? Well, you can certainly buy time through a healthier lifestyle. The cigarettes won’t add-on to it, that’s for sure. Nor will the booze, or the greasy burgers.
With these things you don’t really add any extra time, all you do is, you don’t cut short what you’ve been given.
You don’t know
So let’s assume you do that, you live the healthy life. What about stress in your workplace, bad relationships, and other psychological stress? That’s killing you too.
That’s a whole different animal. You may quit cigarettes or drugs cold turkey, but how do you quit lunatics and taxes? It’s impossible. There is another way, a sad way to do it, but remember: If you quit the whole thing now, then what’s the point of it all?
Just recently someone said: If you quit early, it’s like you’re turning off a movie in the middle of a scene — why would you do that? You want to see what’s going to happen. You may assume that it’ll always be the same — but how can you be so sure? The truth is — you don’t know.
See what is happening right now with the corona thing? Last year I went to see a concert on this very date, now concerts don’t even exist anymore. So how can you say, you know what’s going to happen? No one knows. The Beach Boys say that god only knows, but I’m not so sure about that either.
This is exactly what I was talking about. I start doing one thing and end up doing something else. What you need is focus, because then, you do the stuff that really matters. But we don’t have focus, we are all over the place. Our brain is like a social media feed, first you think about cats making funny faces and then about the deepest metaphysical stuff one could ever imagine — all in a split second.
Even this information — right now — that you’re going to get hit by a ton of regrets right before your death is just another social media post. It makes you stop for a moment, but the next post might be about chocolate cakes, and if you look at it from this tiny perspective — what’s wrong with eating chocolate cake?
I mean there are far worse things than that. I could be hooked on drugs or alcohol, so depending on from which angle you look at it, this could easily be the healthiest thing a person has done today — eaten a piece of chocolate cake.
I know one thing is for sure. Those folks that do stuff like bungee-jumping, or skydiving will not avoid the regret-shot before death, because I’ve never heard of a dying person saying: I wish I had a rubber band tied around my legs and jumped into an abyss — if only I had more time…
I mean, come on!! And folks do that. They want to have fun so that they won’t feel they missed out on something. Funny that this stuff doesn’t matter at all. At least not then.
It’s the more subtle things. You probably know which ones.