Now that my 60th birthday is approaching, I’ve been starting to look back at some of the things that I always meant to do but that, to be realistic, it is now too late for. Some of you, I know, are still young, so take this as advice from an old man, and learn from it.

I meant to learn Sumerian well enough to have written a powerful, moving, life-affirming novel that would have been hailed as a work of genius by the three people able to understand it, and that would have been instantly translated into four other dead languages.

I would have liked to raise a horde of mounted warriors and lead them on a plundering expedition across central Europe.

I wish I’d gotten around to building that time machine so I could have gone back and listened to the Grateful Dead closing Winterland, December 31, 1978.

I always wanted to discover a portal into a parallel universe in which everything is just like it is here except that bunny ears and propeller beanies are standard business-wear.

I wish I’d finished the schematics for the teleporter.

I kept meaning to re-invent mathematics in such a way that the deepest mysteries of the universe became trivially obvious, but I always seemed to be doing something else.

Somehow, it was just never the right time to turn into an immortal demi-god breathing fumes of Argon gas with volcanoes erupting at my whim and travel the universe leaving a swathe of destruction in my wake.

Ah well. If my advice saves just one of you from these sorts of regrets, my life won’t have been entirely wasted.

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I play the drum.

21 thoughts on “Regrets”

  1. There is still time – Grandma has gotten a few more items off her bucket list in the last few years (Feet in Atlantic Ocean again (last time was when she was 20)) , see the whitehouse, see a professional production of Fiddler on the Roof. Though I’m still struggling with a few of hers but I’m working on them.

    PS when wading in the Ocean last weekend I though that it probally counted as ‘May you swim in the sea’ and I thought of you

  2. I am still working on my plans to ascend to a being of pure energy and then surf the quantum waves on the Dirac sea…

  3. I read: “Now that my 60th birthday is approaching” and thought: “Wait, he’s only a year older than me.” Then I was like, oh. oh yeah.

  4. I’m only 36, but I recently hit that wall of ‘what if’s in my life. I always wanted to write a novel, but somehow stopped halfway through each try for fear of rejection from publishers. I always wanted to play an instrument and sing so beautifully I’d make grown men weep. But, my voice is crap. Also, it would be neat to have psionic powers.

  5. What David said. Oh, there’s a trick to being a bad singer and still being entertaining (trust me, I know): it’s all about picking your material.

  6. Thanks for posting this on my 40th yesterday. With well made plans, I should be able to transcend this mortal shell and travel the universe sometime in the next 20 years. I’ll put in a good word for all of you…

  7. The Best Laid Plans
    (A Birthday Poem)

    Coming up soon is my birthday
    So please listen well to what I say.
    Now I’m o’er the hill
    I’ve decided I will
    Share what I’ve planned in this way.

    I once wanted to create a great book
    With a moving and powerful hook.
    Though the language was dead
    I knew it would be read
    By those who spoke the tongue of Uruk.

    I once wanted to loot and to plunder
    While behind me my horde rode like thunder.
    But when I gathered my forses
    And yelled “Mount your horses!”
    I learned hiring lonely men was a blunder.

    (I know nothing about the Grateful Dead. Maybe someone can provide verse 4?)

  8. I wish I’d made time gears all mesh
    And given myself, in the flesh,
    The fortune to be a-
    Round Weir and Garcia,
    The Godchauxs, Hart, Kreutzmann, and Lesh.

  9. I always meant to learn Sumerian so that I could read your novel in the original. But, as my own 60th approaches, that seems unlikely. So I got tattoos instead.

  10. With many thanks to Mr. Friedman, I can avoid having wasted a frivolous mood. To finish:

    …Are Happy Plans
    (A Birthday Poem continued)

    In Dimension X Savile Row is
    The best source for threads, hers and his
    You can buy beanies and twills
    And bunny ears with no frills
    It’s haute couture for those in the biz.

    I could travel from here to over there
    Without touching intervening air
    But it was too much work
    To complete…

    I know solving the multiverse can be done:
    XE4 * 151
    * A, but only when A equals None.

    (I figured out how to do the whole argon gas breathing god thing, but if I share it, I was warned there’d be hell to pay, so I’ll keep it to myself.)

    And on a semi-serious note, I make a present of a book recommendation, “Supper Time”, by Leon Hale, which is a memoir writen entirely in reference to the food he ate. It seems like something that might be up your alley, plus he’s a wonderful writer (40+ years as a rural columnist for two major Houston papers) and he really, really loves eating.

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