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The 5 regrets of the dying

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Well, as far as morbid titles go, this is surely the title winner in the life of this blog so far!

But an article grabbed me yesterday like few before.

For several years, a palliative care nurse by the name of Bronnie Ware has cared for people in the final weeks of their lives; those who have gone home to die. She has written a blog and now a book on the most common laments of those in their last weeks here on earth.

I can’t emphasise this next point enough – every male, every single, solitary man said that they wished ‘they hadn’t worked so hard’.

Every one of them.


Depending on your own personal experiences and how you engage with people, your own responses to the list she compiled will differ.

Here they are, just for the record –

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The point?!

This journey of a year without sport isn’t just about refraining from one of life’s many crutches and distractions. It’s about intentionally engaging with the world around us and leaving as few of life’s regrets to chance as possible. I want to look back and know that I had been present and engaged with my kids’ lives, ‘whenever that came’! As it turned out, a little bubba was on its way sooner rather than later.

I wanted the core of my daily life to revolve around something more transcendent than the next AFL or NBA game.

We never know when our time will come. If we get the chance one day to look back, we’ll want to know that we didn’t just accede to culture and its claim on our time, our money and our priorities.

It was less than 2 weeks ago that we looked at the cost of work, and how our jobs have become another badge of honour to wear. Being busy appears something to respect and uphold, rather than pro-actively looking for ways to manage our unsustainable pace of life and make changes that will significantly shift the landscape of our family, friends and relationships.

And I doubt that anyone who is asked about their regrets when their time comes will reply with, ‘I wish I had watched more footy.’

The 6 day working week

In conjunction with McCrindle Research here in Australia, I’ll soon be releasing research which details how most teachers are working a 6 day week; if not, more. I doubt this differs from most industries. ‘It’s just what you do.’

The rate of burnout in my industry is incredibly high, as it is in most service industries. In the Western world, we have more than ever before; money, opportunity, choice… Yet we lament a loss of freedom in our self-imposed frenetic lifestyle as if we exist in an irreversible life of poverty and confinement.

We have more control over our lives than we care to admit.

Yet stepping away – the title of this blog’s first ever piece – takes courage and involves being counter-cultural in an environment where to be different inherently involves challenging the carefully crafted comforts and justifications of a consumerist world. The thing is, our landscape didn’t happen by chance. It was intentionally designed to feed the entitled yet never actually satisfy our innermost desires.

If our brand new mega-inch 3D HD LED screens enabled us to fast forward through to our final days before hitting the rewind button once we ascertained how we really felt about the lives we led and tap into our own regrets, I wonder what level of change this would create.

Substantial, you’d think.


About petek8

Pete Evans has just finished going 12 months without watching any sport. The journey stemmed from a sense that the balance was out-of-whack with my time and my priorities. Everything seemed to revolve around creating enough time and space to fit in the last game, games, recap shows or space to surf the net for the latest numbers and analysis. The cycle never ends - one season leads into another, seasons overlap if you follow various sports and the media's insatiable appetite for a new 'story' means that even the greatest of achievements aren't heralded for more than 3 days. So I stepped away from the machine for awhile and intentionally engaging with the journey by writing about it.

8 responses »

  1. Whew, you hit on some big stuff there. I suspect that one of the challenges of re-tuning your life, is that it constantly jolts with the stereotypical questions of post modern life. As we’re jolted, it can be difficult to endure the path of simplicity, as opposed to consumption.

    • Yeah, I think I might need to go with, ‘Soccer – boring or supersport’ as my next title, to keep things light! The jolting you referred to can be such a positive thing, so long as we’re open to it. Thing is, if we’re too proud to have others speak into our lives, then we’re in trouble…

  2. No-one said they regretted not being able to come back to life as The Undertaker?

    Very deep column this week.

  3. Mate, I know that many people have greatly encoruaged you in this year long endevour. I also know that some have left you feeling discouraged at times. Regardless, this took courage and what you personally will take from it is priceless and can only be obtained from such commitment and hard work.

    It takes a lot of effort to write two very decent blog posts each week for a year and keep it interesting. You’ve done that and its no small feat.

    The way you have steered the ship from subject matters of sport to life and death has been brilliant and this latest post is just another fine example.

  4. You’ve stepped out on a big adventure with this blog mate, something that not many others would or could commit too.

    I have no doubt that you have and will gain far more from it that you could possibly lose.

    Subject matter has veered from sport, religion, life and even death. Yet you link them all with ease. This post is just another example that for me, highlights the mis-guided focus that is the life of the decadent westerners.


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