Deathbed memories

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

No one ever rolls over on their deathbed to impart their last wisdom upon their children or grandchildren and says, “I wish I would have worked harder,” or, “I wish I would have been in more of a hurry.”

I don’t know this for a fact — maybe one of those things has indeed been said in just those circumstances — but I just can’t picture it.

I mean really, can you picture a scene in a heartwarming drama, the audience sniffling, and the old man in the hospital bed leans toward his estranged granddaughter who he’s just been reunited with after years of family turmoil, and he whispers to her, “Eighty hours a week at the office wasn’t quite enough,” before the high-pitched flat-line sound of the heart monitor kicks in?

No. They say things like, “I should have slowed down and looked around,” or, “I wish I would’ve gone to more of your father’s hockey games,” or “I wish I’d learned to paint a sunset.”

And why do we picture them saying these things and not those things?

Why do we picture that character saying, “I wish I’d gotten to know you better,” instead of, “Why didn’t I put more away for retirement?”

Because deep down we know we should work less, love more, slow down and appreciate life — but can’t convince ourselves to do so — and we like to see real life reflected in these types of films.

We know we’ll regret all that time we spent at the office trying to look busy to our bosses — when we actually finished our work hours earlier — but we convince ourselves it’s necessary sacrifice to get ahead in the world.

We know we’ll wish we spent more time with our friends and family instead of picking up those extra shifts at that shit job we don’t care about (working for people we know don’t care about us) — but we need that newer version of the super-phone we already own, right?

As a post-secondary student, you can correspond this sentiment to your friends (or roommates or whatever) asking if you want to go watch the latest installment of the Batman franchise, and telling them you need to study for an exam you’ve already prepared for, because for some reason you think the essay question might be different than the one your professor told you would be on the test, and you’ve just got to ace it.

Or you’re asked if you want to go out into the woods for the night, pitch a tent by a fire and roast some weenies and marshmallows, but you decide to stay home and play on your Facebook between Tweets, interspersed with pages of Heart of Darkness for your literature class.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to ignore your studies in favour of having fun. That would be irresponsible of me.

I’m asking if you can see yourself looking back at these years spent at school and wistfully remembering all the time you spent at your desk or in the library.

Make time for the things you want to remember later in life, my friends.

Because I can’t picture that character saying “I wish I’d worked harder,” and neither can you.