Lately, I’ve been thinking about something called the deathbed fallacy- The idea that you will have all these regrets whilst you’re dying, so you better act NOW, to avoid the regrets.
It’s fallacious because the person you will be when you’re dying isn’t the person you are today. I’ll use myself for an example.
Let’s pretend I am dying today. I COULD die today, but it’s pretty unlikely.. I left the house this morning, so I could’ve been creamed by a stupid ass Massachusetts driver, but that didn’t happen. Anyway, so, I’m dying…
I regret soooo much! Oh gawd! I better go back to 2013 and tell 27 year old me to NOT move to Boston because that failed miserably! I didn’t even finish college like I planned to! Oh, if only I had done things differently. Who knows what wonderful things could’ve happened if only I hadn’t cared so much what people thought of me back then?
And, today is father’s day. Oh, I should’ve told my dad how I felt about him. That night in 2001, when my mom asked me if I wanted to stay up late and watch The Simpsons with him, I should’ve. But I didn’t, I was scared to be around a dying person. Now, here I am, years later…Oh, the regrets..
Ok, here’s the deal. I can’t regret any of that malarky because I was a different person back then, so what the hell is the point of me sitting here judging the past me? In 2001, I was a young goober with no life experience. Am I to sit here, all wise ‘n old, and judge that teenager? Why? That teen did what they felt was right at the time. They shouldn’t be judged by some judgy person on their death bed.
When I moved to Boston in 2013 to start a fresh new life, I really thought it was the best thing I was doing for myself. Now, I think it was ridiculous, a waste of money, and pointless. I really used to get warped by TVs, movies, and my peers, who tell you that the only way to ‘find yourself’ is to go live in some overpriced city and be hip and cool. The truth is that you can find yourself basically anywhere. You bring your head with you wherever you go. But in 2013 I was riddled with anxiety and I just wanted to get away.
It’s easy to be on my death bed and judge those actions, but I’m judging them as a different person. And what’s the point of that?
We judge workaholics. They should’ve not worked so much. Oh, they wasted their lives…
But it is quite easy to wish you hadnt worked so hard, when you have no time left. It is the only reasonable response..Because you have no time left anyway. but with a ‘life’ ahead of you, working hard makes ‘sense.’ So, it makes no sense to judge ourselves in this manner, if you ask me.
Well, anyway. I no longer live my life thinking about my damn deathbed. My idea of the ‘self’ has morphed over time, anyway, since I’ve had a few rather big life changing events. My dad passing away, and my failed move to the city, changed me pretty profoundly. I have a lot of respect for people who try new things even if they wind up failing. And I hope they don’t think, on their death beds, ‘oh, if only I didn’t do this or that thing.’ We’re all doing the best we can in this moment.
I guess this sort of ties into some meditation and buddhist thought- that all you really have is this moment. The person you are today isn’t the person you were even last month, or two months from now. Like, if I get some horrible disease next year, it’s going to change how I view life. Well, anyway. Here’s me smiling, not thinking about some future version of myself…(Just kidding, I think about the future A LOT. Hypocrite alert!!!)