“Okay, friend – here it is from the other end of life. I retired last year at the age of 58 from a career in IT. I spent most of my life doing exactly what you’re doing, in school, work, relationships…and now when I look back my biggest regret is that I never pushed myself to see what I could achieve if I truly gave it my all. Don’t get me wrong – I worked for 40 years and I worked hard at every job, but my procrastination left me doing nearly everything at the last minute and thinking exactly what you’re thinking – boy, what amazing things I could have done if I had more time. I did end my career working for a large corporation and making decent money, but a huge part of me knows that I could have been so much more. I understand that it’s partly fear of failure and partly fear of success, but that knowledge is not much comfort when you’re almost 60 years old and there are many more years behind you than in front of you. PLEASE don’t do what I did. PLEASE push yourself and test yourself and let yourself be every great thing that you can be.”
An EMT at a senior living community: “I’ve known death as long as i can remember, it is a staple in my life, even now when i no longer have to run from it, it is still a constant. I grew up believing i was watching my mother die (the odds were stacked against her in a major way, but she beat them so far), year after year i thought it would be her last and i know someday it will be. I’ve watched more of my family die than still lives. Even in my work i am surrounded by it (EMT at an old folks home). Death is constant. Interesting note though…so is life. The living sit and look at the dying and think about what they would regret in that position…i didn’t travel, i didn’t have much money, i never ‘lived’, and on and on…but the dying, it’s so much different. They don’t look at what they had, the things, the trips, the money, they look at WHO they had, their children ‘did they do better than me? did i raise them right?’, their spouse, their friends. they look at the love, the kindness, their regrets are not HAVING more, it is almost always not loving more. Guilt they express over material things like money and house is because they wish they had more to give those left behind, not that they regret not having it for themselves but because they want to GIVE MORE. Money and possessions are anchors that keep you locked in place always looking for more, guilt is cement shoes keeping you drowning in fear and self loathing, worry and doubt. I’ve known the wealthy to die alone, alienated, the only people bothering to stop by are those looking to cash in with a grand final gesture, and i’ve seen those like your dad, working until the last, not a penny to their name but so incredibly loved and ultimately peaceful because they’ve done something to be proud of…they’ve made the world a little better just by loving and not neglecting their families and friends. All the death i’ve seen, all the endings, the heartache, the countless tears i’ve been witness to, it’s all taught me something i feel is very important….it is so much better to be financially poor and deeply loved and respected than it is to be wealthy and alone. Find your passion and follow it, and if it makes you rich, great, just remember, never put so many ‘things’ in your life that you don’t have room for the people. Oh, and as for your dad, he may have been a simple taxi driver, but maybe that’s where he found his peace, writing poems in his mind as he drove nameless faces to and fro until he could come home to the family that meant more to him than all the dollars and dimes in the world and seeing you doing better than him.. .that’s every parents greatest wish.”
A fifty-four year-old Redditor sums up how he felt in every decade of his life so far:
“0-10 Wheeeee! Hot wheels! We are on the moon!!
“11-20 School is boring, but I learned that with a 40 hour a week job, you can survive. The fact that this is no longer true is a fundamental problem in American society.
“21-30 Girls are an awful lot of fun. Challenger explodes while I am employed by one of their subcontractors. Exploring my little part of the world. Completely self-sufficient.
“31-40 Holy shit, I’m a married homeowner with two kids! These years fly by, but I remember them fondly. Little kids are the best!
“41-50 The career that I’ve worked on my whole life dissolves before my very eyes. But, we survive. For the first time in my life, I get to vote for a president who I actually want to win, rather than the one I hate the least. Red Sox win WS – crack open the champagne!
“51-54 Re-evaluating my next 10-15 years, concentrating more on my children getting a decent start than anything else.”
“The number is unimportant, it’s the effect of the joke that matters. Everyone who hears that joke understands it, while at the same time not having a clue what it means. Because that is the joke, it’s about understanding, or the lack thereof. What the number 42 really represents is the inability of the human race to ever truly understand the “Answer” or even really formulate “The Great Question” if there ever was to be just one. What Adams does is deliver that nonunderstanding in way that can be immediately processed and remarked upon. The Great Question is never explicitly stated either, which makes perfect sense in this context as well. It is very easy to talk about the existence of a Great Question, the answer to which contains understanding of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but it is nigh impossible to formulate such a question or even suggest what it might be without sounding silly. Humanity is capable of amazing feats of intelligence, but we probably don’t posess the intellectual chops to distill the universe down to a single question, nor to interpret the “infinte majesty” of the answer even if it were so simple as “42”.”