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Looking back on our lives | Print |  Email
Friday, 28 April 2006
Play with the kids, risk rejection, dance, idle – all on Mary Moylan’s “to do� list. Because she knows it’s not the things she does she’ll regret – it’s the things she doesn’t do.

By Mary Moylan (

See more Then and Now stories

Let’s pretend we’re 80 and looking back on our lives

(Or what am I going to do with what’s left of this one wild and precious life?)

I’ve listened to enough elderly people to realize that they invariably embody that same old end-of-life emotion – one will never regret the things we do, only the things we don’t do. Lately it’s got me to thinking of my life - though it looks far from over, depending on the (Wo)Man Upstairs - and what I wished I had done more of and less of. It’s not too late to change and as someone said your headstone won’t be covered with the gratitude of everyone for working all those extra hours or a list of the blue chip stocks you managed to accumulate.

Anyway, here they are, my two lists:

What I would have done more of

  • Taking my children out of school for the day and gone fishing.
  • Playing all day with my children
  • Taking a whole day to read a book right to the end.
  • Spending weekends exploring the Burren on foot.
  • Lying on the grass and doing absolutely nothing with my dog
  • Cooking more meals for friends no matter what the condition of my house
  • Taking more afternoons off to see movies.
  • Making more of an eejit of myself with a karaoke machine.
  • Walking in the rain
  • Planting more bulbs, trees, bushes and roses
  • Knitting by the fire while being read to
  • Composing more poetry
  • Firing out ten times as much stuff to potential publishers and plastering even more walls with rejection slips.
  • Talking to more of the homeless and downtrodden of our fellow citizens
  • Sleeping
  • Idling
  • Photographing
  • Painting pictures
  • Making clothes
  • Playing piano
  • Listening to my grandmothers
  • Baking
  • Laughing long, loud and hard at myself
  • Volunteering
  • Eating more black and white puddings.
  • Risking rejection
  • Trusting in a power greater than myself
  • Jogging in the golden light of dawn.
  • Dancing
  • Singing
  • Sailing

What I would have done less of

  • Staying at the office till all hours
  • Being cranky, brusque and short with my children
  • Shopping at malls or at big box stores, actually shopping at all, full-stop.
  • Drinking
  • Smoking
  • Eating
  • Listening to whiners
  • Whining
  • Complaining
  • Being miserable for no good reason
  • Blaming my parents for all that was wrong with my life
  • Wanting bigger and bigger houses and newer and newer cars
  • People pleasing
  • Going places I didn’t want to be and with people I didn’t want to be with.
  • Wasting time and emotions over broken relationships.

So this weekend’s going to see me out there buying a new rosebush for the garden, sending out a story to a publisher and hitting the Irish shop for some black and white puddings. Small steps, but on the whole, I think I’d rather wear out than rust out….and die with a smile on my face.


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