According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. And because that book is based on science, I know it’s true. So because today I am 42, I now know the answers, and I’m going to share them, even if it’s cheating to share with those of you yet to reach this meaningful age.
The first answer is that *of course* I don’t *really* have the answers, but I’m ready to take a stab at it. This is a shamelessly self-indulgent post, because it’s my blog, and my birthday, and because one of the answers is ‘be fearless’ or at least act like you’re fearless.
Deathbed Test and Regrets Rule
We’ve all seen wise words tendered by the elderly as they near death, my favourite of which is ‘never regret the things you did, only those you didn’t’. I try to live by that one. I don’t always succeed, either in doing rather than not, nor in resisting the lure of regret. But I try. And I’ve been trying since I was young, just ask my parents. I’m not interested in figuring life out right as I leave it. I conduct the Deathbed Test on most of my decisions.
I apply the Regrets Rule to food. Last week I ate some cheese and bacon cheezels at work. They were profoundly unsatisfying, leaving my mouth with a cloying sheen of artifice the likes of which I’d not known since my teens. I don’t regret that I ate them. In a way, I’m glad I did – now I know what I’m ‘missing’. I’ll stick with almonds, thanks. Had I not eaten that little fundraising bag of frankenfood, I would have wondered whether some secret, salty pleasure lurked inside the foil. Five minutes of a poor choice, six orange, sticky digits, and seven cheezel-lurid teeth later, I knew. So what, I ate some bad food. It’s not like I live on it.
My mum was diagnosed with cancer this year. It took me three days to book a flight on which I hurtled my fear and love stateside five days later. I spent a month with Mama and Dad, feeding them, nourishing our collective thicker-than-water blood, reconnecting after two decades of a Life Away. I am grateful I had the means to make the trip, and that they raised us to know, feel, and act on our commitment to each other. I will never regret the money nor the time spent to be there, and know the regret would have been long and harsh had I stayed away in the interest of pragmatism. I’ll be back there next week, then again with all my Jonai for Thanksgiving, for what we all hope (and have reason to believe) will be a celebration. I will continue to make more time for my mum and dad, for ultimately, what is life but those we love? Continue reading 42: The Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything