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Pre-Coffee Philosophical. Because I’m Crazy Like That.

You know how sometimes you can be in a place — a weird place inside your head — and you’re sitting there wondering whether you’re doing the right thing? Whether you took the right exit. Whether you’re following the right path. Because everyone else seems to think that it’s wrong. That you’re falling. That you’ve lost your ever-loving mind.

And then something happens. Some little thing — a well-timed news story, a word of encouragement, a tiny sign of camaraderie from Life — its way of letting you know that while others might not “get it,” the two of you are still on the same team.

Maybe it’s because we look for signs when we need encouragement, and these nudges would mean something completely different had we chosen another road.


But sometimes, something speaks to you, and it’s too loud to ignore.

I no longer remember what series of internet rabbit holes led me to this article or why, instead of depressing me, it made me feel encouraged. It’s written by Bronnie Ware, author of a book called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.

Okay, let’s just get the uncomfortable part out-of-the-way first. Yes, dying sucks. I hate it. You hate it. It makes all sad when someone does it. Mostly because we don’t understand it, and that makes it scary. That, and the sense of permanence.

That said, it’s important — so, so important — that we learn in this life the lessons people are willing to teach.

You know, so we don’t have to learn the hard way.

Okay. How many times, since you were a child, has someone tried to save you from learning something the hard way?

Eight hundred seventy-nine million?

And how many times has that stopped you from trying something yourself?

Once? Never?

That’s what I thought.

As a species, we’re relatively hard-headed. Especially when we’re young, when we’re so thirsty for not just knowledge but experience that it matters not that our parents told us not to drink too much. We’re still going to go out, take too many shots from a bottle of peppermint schnapps, become far too honest with too many people, empty our stomach contents all over the bathroom floor, and forever after suffer from an aversion to toothpaste flavored anything.

What? That’s just me?

Well. The irony is, we just become more stubborn when we get older. Only instead of it being about experience and going our own way, it somehow turns into going the right way — the way everyone else is going. We think decisions are no longer an option — that we’re too far caught up in whatever stage we find ourselves (marriage, children, retirement) to think about straying now. We’re flabbergasted and inspired by those who fall from the assembly line way of living and yet, somehow, we think it’s not an option for us. That those people have something special.

But they don’t.

And according to Bronnie Ware, dying people know this all too well. They know they could have done something different, but they simply didn’t. Fear of the Unknown kept them on the straight and narrow, and it wasn’t until they were faced with death that they realized, really, that there was nothing to be afraid of. It’s just Life. So the regrets, apparently, are fairly universal:

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 didn’t work 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.

The article offers really nice explanations of each, so I won’t expand. But I think, maybe, that they speak for themselves.

We’re so worried all of the time that people will judge us. That we can’t be loud and silly at a party. That we can’t make hot sauce in Costa Rica. That we can’t talk about vaginas at the dinner table.

But it looks like, in the end, that you only have one judge to worry about — the one sitting at the bench inside of your head.

The one who’s been toughest on you from the start.

Regrets, I think, are unavoidable. There’s always something more you could have done.

But tell me.

Isn’t the biggest always that you waited to start?


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Hard lessons are the only lessons we really learn. Once we tie those together with the “you shouldn’t ____, because _____” that our parents (or whomever) taught us, then we can make a story out of them. On the other hand, if I had anything I might do again, I’d make al little more room in my hard head for the advice my mother gave me. Luckily, we’re both still kicking, and she still talks to me, so it doesn’t have to wait until we’re dying.

I’d like to think I’ve been working on subverting this list for a while now, and while some of them are constant work within myself, like expressing my feelings to everyone around me to keep the peace (which sometimes you do need a bottle of schnapps for), others I’m quite content with, and glad I’ve [just about] rid myself of the conditioned need to be a millionaire in order to believe I’ve led a dignified, contributive existence. But money does help with bus tickets, so… ~balance~


Yep, it’s that constant struggle — I don’t *need* money to be happy, but I do need some money to do the things that make me happy. What a fun mental game of tug-of-war. :)


Excellent article. I know all that – I think everyone does – but it’s great to be reminded now and then.

As for your question about wondering if you’re doing the right thing, I’ve always found that if I listen to myself, the answer becomes astonishingly clear. If I make a decision, or consider something that is right, I feel light and happy. If I am considering something that isn’t right for some reason, I end up sleepless and with stomach aches.


You’re right — it’s definitely nothing new, but sometimes we float on like we have all the time in the world to fix things, and it helps to have that reminder that the time to make yourself happy is now.

Great point on the gut feeling! I’m going to try to remember that from now on. :)


“Isn’t the biggest always that you waited to start?”

No In my personal opinion I think the bigger regrets are the ones you cant control.

Dying Regrets are not always about stuff you can control but also stuff you cant like meeting the right person, having the lifestyle you want (“Nickelback – Rockstar comes to mind) or a multitude of other things.

If was to die today my biggest regret would be not meeting the right person and living the life of the meeting “the one” while i was young in high school getting married having a family like some people i know personally you know all the happily ever after stuff.

For what ever reason you want to attributed to that wasn’t the way my life was to go. In life there is that hidden Factor of “luck” “fate” “gods plan” “the cards you are dealt” how ever else you want to describe.It sucks but hey you cant live the life of someone who has a royal flush when all you have is a pair 2’s.

All I know is I have tried my best to “change my hand” that that’s all I can do. I guess when you look back that is all that is important .The women that have left me did so for their own reasons I did all i could. So i may regret not meeting the right person that’s something i cant control but as for what i can I know I have tried so that is only one regret when it could have been two..or three had been the one to just stay even if it wasn’t “right”.


I think I have to disagree with you this time.

How can you regret something you have no control over? To me, regrets can come only for the choice you make/don’t make. If something isn’t a choice, you can hardly regret it.

I know you don’t like your lot in life right now — but being the “woe is me” guy is NOT going to attract a decent woman. However, being your most amazing self all of the time and finding ways to be happy with what you DO have in life might just bring out the guy who WILL attract a fantastic woman. Instead of trying so hard to please someone else all of the time, make yourself happy. Then you will attract someone who knows how to take care of herself, and the two you can work on building a relationship together — not a one-sided contract where you do all of the work.

Read this:

And this:

And REALLY read them. :)


This post made me really happy because I’m already doing all these things. :) Of course, I’m only my early twenties, but hopefully I can continue on the same way.


Ha, that is fantastic! It took me longer than most to finish college (quit for a while), but after that, I spent all of my mid-20s riding that “typical career” bandwagon, thinking I needed that to get more, more, more. Now I’m realizing I don’t want all of that, and trust me — it’s so much harder to turn around once you get started. Especially if there’s someone else involved who might still be on the ride. Good for you for following your heart! Whatever you do, don’t lose sight of it along the way. ;)


I find it sad that these ‘simple’ points take us so many reminders for us to actually do something about it. There’s always so much pressure (from ourselves, from others) to do so many things that we forget how important the basics are. Thanks for the nice reminder!

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