What you regret most at the end of your life is said to be the things you didn’t do — climb Everest without oxygen, go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, bungee jump into the crater of an active volcano. Are you crazy? What I would regret most at the end of my life would be the end of my life.
Each generation believes itself to be more intelligent than the one before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it, and yet most of them eventually regret neglecting their teeth, not using enough sunscreen, not travelling more (gypsies are exempt from this), failing to exercise more, not bothering to learn another language, not learning how to cook (most men are exempt from this) and not worrying enough about all of the foregoing.
“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” admitted Frank Sinatra, whereas Edith Piaf regretted nothing. Connie Francis, whose song “Who’s Sorry Now?” was named one of the Songs of the Century, is now 84. She was head of Ronald Reagan’s task force on violent crime, and her own brother was murdered by mafia hitmen.
“Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today,” sang Ella Fitzgerald. It transpires that Miss Otis has a perfectly valid excuse, as she is about to be hanged for gunning down her two-timing boyfriend. Her disappointment at missing lunch is quite understandable in that context, wouldn’t you say?
The violent gangster Al Capone had lots of time to regret not paying his tax bills, after the Feds managed to send him to jail for 11 years on 5 counts of tax evasion. Not surprisingly, Al died of apoplexy. Incidentally, I’ve paid all of my taxes, before you ask.
Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns once accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest while he was ploughing a field. Being who he was, he wrote a poem about it, well, you do, don’t you, anytime that happens. The best-laid schemes of mice and men often get ploughed under. Burns’ brother Gilbert claimed the poet composed the poem (‘To a Mouse’) while still holding the plough. But then Gilbert also claimed that Robert was shy and awkward with women…
Some regrets are larger than others. Nobody in history ever said, “I wish I had spent more time in the office,” or “I regret making my fourth wife sign a prenup just days before I won the lottery.” Most regrets by definition involve the past. “Thinking of the days that are no more” caused Queen Victoria’s Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, to shed “idle tears, wild with all regret.” Reading poetry can make you a nervous wreck, stick to newspaper articles is my advice. Trust me, you won’t regret it.