Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
That is the signature of a person on Bethesda’s gaming forum, who shared with us some of his experiences in his 82-year life.
My 30 year-old friends complain that half their friends are married; my 60 year-old friends complain that half their friends are dead. The only people I know who are happy with their lives are those who are roughly where they wanted to be at the time, but even they will have some dreams unfulfilled – some dreadful fear of being left behind in some aspect of their lives. What will I regret? That I never “did something” with my life – never got a degree, never got some job with a fancy title, never made it as a rock star. Had I done those things, I’d be moaning that I never had a family or never got to spend time at home – there’s always something.
It’s what drives us forward. Human beings are lazy. Humanity spent its first years doing as little as physically possible – the only reason we’re not running around naked eating fruit is because it’s too bloody cold and someone has to plant the trees, and in places where the climate allows it, people don’t bother to dress up or build brick houses or farm crops. We need to be that little bit uncomfortable or we’d never do anything at all.
The people we think of as having led a good life are those who lived according to their own rules – it’s whether you did most of what you set out to do that counts. This forum user, A. G. Randad (geddit?), was happy that he kept his promise to find his love when the war was over. Whatever his choices, he followed his dreams in spite of any obstacles in the way with a certain amount of bravery, and encourages the same in others. He can still see the beauty in the world after all the loss and sadness typical for someone of that age. I only hope to feel the same when I am in my eighties.
What will I regret? Most probably that I didn’t do much travelling. I wonder what North Korea will be like in 50 years’ time.