We used to have an in-ground swimming pool. It was great when the kids were younger and had their friends over, but they grew up and moved away, as kids tend to do, and we didn’t use the pool very much. We’re not pool people, so after a few summers of maintaining a pool no one used, we decided to have it filled in. This is not something one can do with a few shovels and a few friends on a Saturday afternoon. It has to be done by a company that specializes in pool removal. They told us if anyone just dumped a lot of dirt into the hole the pool occupied, the liner would rise out of the ground. Sounds like a horror movie or something. So we had the pool removed, although they didn’t, for some reason, take the pump and filter and external plumbing. I’m not sure why. Maybe I kept them because I don’t know, I wanted to put in a huge waterfall in the backyard. I just don’t remember.
So, the sand filter, a large egg-shaped thing made of fiberglas, has been living under our deck ever since we got rid of the pool. I decided I wanted to take it to a pool store and see what they would offer me for it and the pump. The problem with taking it to the store is that, filled with sand, the filter probably weights three hundred pounds. There is no way I would be lifting that and putting it into my little Mazda wagon. So I decided to take the sand out, which is done by removing the filter lid and scooping the sand out. The problem with this is that the opening in the filter is about four inches across. The on-line articles I read said to use a bucket, but we don’t have children at home any more and so there are no little beach buckets at our house. I ended up using a twelve-ounce Styrofoam cup, which took a long time to empty all the sand out. But at least I could lift the filter shell.
This is what got me to wondering about buckets and their history, and I found out that buckets as well as being useful (when they’re not too big for the task at hand) are a very old artifact, dating back over five thousand years. Egyptians used buckets, which is probably why they walked like an Egyptian. Once I had established this bit of knowledge, my associative mind, which you’ve witnessed at work here for a couple of years, got to thinking about bucket lists, which I’m sure everyone has heard of. It’s a list of exciting or unusual things that you want to do before you die, such as cliff dive (not thanks), bungee jumping (ditto) or swimming with the sharks (ugh). Some people don’t like the term bucket list, and I understand that. One alternative is “lifetime to do list” which, if it’s anything like my daily to do list, would NEVER get done.
All that to say this: I don’t know if you’ve seen the list of the Top Ten Regrets of Dying People.
It had its origins with an Australian nurse named Bronnie Ware who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying
Ware wrote that people at the end of their lives gained phenomenal clarity of vision. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”
Some other people have expanded the list to ten based on their experiences, and I think the regrets of the dying have a great deal to teach the living.
1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. I missed being a part of my children’s lives and I missed my wife’s/husband’s friendship and companionship.
2. I wish I’d have had the courage to live a life TRUE TO MYSELF, instead of living the life that others expected of me.
3. I wish I would have had the courage to express my feelings honestly instead of thinking they didn’t matter or they weren’t popular.
4. I wish I would’ve stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I would’ve allowed myself to be happier, smiling more and complaining less.
6. I wish I would’ve gotten to know God better. I’m realizing now, just HOW MUCH He’s always been there.
7. (Women) I wish I had just let the dust sit a little longer, and gone out to play with my children when they pleaded. (Men) I wish I had just let the phone ring, and chosen to stay home with my family more, or gone to that ballgame or that play.
8. I wish I would’ve known NOT to sweat the small stuff. It wasn’t all that important in the end when you are looking at the ‘big picture’.
9. I wish I would’ve had the attitude of celebrating life instead of enduring it.
10. I wish I would’ve taken a class or two to learn some new things.
Wise words, and ones that should give each of us pause. I know they did me.