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Life as story

The happiest people in the nursing home are the ones with the best stories, not the ones with the most money. My biases

When I get an idea for a blog post, I often just create the title, leaving the content field blank. Now and then I write a title and have no idea what in the hell I was thinking when I wrote it. In a sense, this works as what we English teachers would have called a writing prompt. So this post has been sitting around for a bit, just being prompt-ish.

I thought about though when I read one of those click bait articles on my Facebook page called These are the Top 37 Things You'll Regret When You are Old by Kasim Khan on his EducateInspireChange website.

Judging from Mr. Khan's site photo, I am not sure what qualifies him to create a list from a geriatric perspective. In a couple weeks, I qualify for Medicare and I don't necessarily feel I am old enough to state what "old" people regret having done or not having done. Nor I am convinced that there are any universal human regrets.

That being said, it's pretty hard to fault the 37 things Mr. Khan lists (Neglecting your teeth, Working too much, Staying in a bad relationship, etc.) Personally, I regret the days when I have not in some way been productive - having accomplished a task, written a few words, seen or read something actually worth seeing or reading. Looking back, I am guessing those evenings spent in the recliner watching a stupid movie eating a frozen pizza will be those times for which I would like a do over.

Any time spent with loved ones; time spent recreationally, especially outdoors; time spent reflecting; time spent teaching; time spent learning; time spent problem-solving; time spent repairing or maintaining or cleaning, I doubt I will rue.

But as the opening quote suggests, the things one does that make the best stories may be the very best ones. Seeing the big rattlesnake on the trail; surviving the bike ride through the thunderstorm; narrowly avoiding disaster though plain dumb luck; traveling to a place that is worthy of a National Geographic photo-shoot. (See my friend Cary's story Surviving Cascade for a great example.)

My best guess that if there is regret involved it will be that I did not experience enough events that would make great stories in the nursing home.

So what might you regret in your dotage?

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Reader Comments (2)

I guess I can agree with some of Khan's sentiment -- I really wish I had controlled my diet and weight in younger years, maybe even wish I had taken up running. I wish I had saved more and spent less. But really, I wish I had been more effective in enacting change around me and inspiring others to want to lead the change themselves..

I have always believed that I, and I alone, can determine what types of professional development I need, and as such, I have read and viewed school and library pieces from many viewpoints, trying to construct my own meaning and philosophies as to what students need. I have written and shared what I have read and viewed, but I don't feel actions on my part have inspired colleagues to do the same.

I will regret not taking full advantage of participation in AASL or ASCD, or even my local chapter of AFT.

I retired in December but am still the chair of the state library association's school libraries division, membership 11. I need someone to take over where I have left off. My biggest fear is that if someone does not step forward and build a vibrant association that speaks for all of us, school librarians in my state will cease to exist. What else could I have done to stop it? If school libraries disappear, that will in fact be my biggest regret.

July 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzie Martin

Hi Suzie,

As I read your accomplishments and list of things for which you have professionally volunteered, you have done more than 90% of our profession!

In response to your last point, after many years of leadership in our state association, I conscientiously stepped back to allow new, younger leadership to take the helm. New leadership may be different for different times, but people come forward. I am sure my generation of leaders concerned older librarians when the time came to turn over the reigns!

Thanks for the comment,


July 17, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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