He was on his death bed. He knew that these were his last moments. They were the worst moments of his life. He was terrified, miserable, and full of regret.
He never loved life or desired it. He did not seek a position, wealth, or fame but he became so full of regret when it was too late. He didn’t regret not making more money or becoming famous, but he regretted his wasted years on this planet. As death became closer his life didn’t flash before his eyes, but the lack of it. He thought of all the people he could’ve met, the people he could’ve inspired, and the people he could’ve loved. He imagined all the cities he could’ve visited: New York, Mumbai, Beirut, Beijing, Moscow, Paris, Berlin, Sydney, and Nairobi. Oh his thoughts could go on forever.
His body was old and so was his mind, but his soul was willing. He had a family whom he loved and cherished but all he could think was that it wasn’t enough. How many adventures could he have had? How many more stories could he tell his grandchild? He never sat next to an old man or woman on the bus or in the park and listened to what they had to say. He never saw a little girl cry and tried to cheer her up. He never got lost in a foreign city and never had a roommate. He wasted too much time being cynical and criticizing the world rather than doing anything about it. He would get hurt and dwell on it for an eternity rather than going back out there and getting hurt over and over again.
He realized now that happiness and joy aren’t the only things that make us feel alive, but all the feelings at once. You’re alive when you’re hurt, when you’re afraid, when you’re anxious, and when you’re excited. Joy alone cannot exist or you wouldn’t even feel it. Oh how he cried as he realized how big the world was and how much time he had.
He grabbed his grandchild and told him how he felt so he wouldn’t make the same mistakes. The boy was only 13 but he knew his grandchild understood when he saw his eyes shine. They smiled at each other as they both realized it was time. He went away knowing that his grandchild won’t make the same mistakes. He went away hoping that his grandchild’s life will make up for his. The boy went on to change lives and travel the world and he took the memory of his grandfather everywhere he went.
“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”