According to The Hitchhikerâ€™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 itâ€™s true. So because today I am 42, I now know the answers, and Iâ€™m going to share them, even if itâ€™s cheating to share with those of you yet to reach this meaningful age.
The first answer is that *of course* I donâ€™t *really* have the answers, but Iâ€™m ready to take a stab at it. This is a shamelessly self-indulgent post, because itâ€™s my blog, and my birthday, and because one of the answers is â€˜be fearlessâ€™ or at least act like youâ€™re fearless.
Deathbed Test and Regrets Rule
Weâ€™ve all seen wise words tendered by the elderly as they near death, my favourite of which is â€˜never regret the things you did, only those you didnâ€™tâ€™. I try to live by that one. I donâ€™t always succeed, either in doing rather than not, nor in resisting the lure of regret. But I try. And Iâ€™ve been trying since I was young, just ask my parents. Iâ€™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 Iâ€™d not known since my teens. I donâ€™t regret that I ate them. In a way, Iâ€™m glad I did – now I know what Iâ€™m â€˜missingâ€™. Iâ€™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. Itâ€™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. Iâ€™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