IF you had your time again what would you try harder at?
The obvious answer would be life as a whole, a cover all that can mean everything or nothing, and is easier said than done.
Languages is another one that people regularly trot out and I must admit I’m pretty impressed by those who can converse in several — there are plenty on the streets these days who struggle to manage one.
I was in the same Russian class as Kevin Smith. He went on to teach the subject at a private school. I didn’t. Do I wish I’d tried harder? Of course, but not for that reason. It would just be nice to turn up in another country and have a slight clue what anyone else was talking about. Maybe even join in without thumbing through the “language” section of the travel guide.
School in general? I would maybe give a yes to that one. I tried at the subjects I liked but not at the ones I didn’t and as a result know jack all when it comes to the sciences and, to be truthful, plenty else.
Sport? That would be a definite yes when it came to football or cricket, but looking back, in the style of a midfielder with a good engine, plenty of enthusiasm and not much in the way of technical know-how, I put plenty of effort in for little reward.
Music? I would have liked to have been in a proper band, but lacked confidence and dedication, so my minimal efforts on the guitar/ukulele/harmonica/recorder/whistle etc came to nothing.
How about the basics such as DIY, mechanics, joinery? You know, the stuff that gets you through the day without having to call in an expert every time a plug needs changing?
Yes, I wouldn’t have minded learning how to put up a shelf, hang something up, lay a carpet, change a tyre or even a light bulb (it’s a much harder task than it used to be these days), but, to be honest, I showed no interest in picking up any practical skills and have paid the price. Literally. Every ****** time something goes wrong.
Being nice? Nicer? Well that’s a difficult one as you shouldn’t have to try, but I will go with a yes for that one because you would be a bit of a t*t if you didn’t want to be nicer than you are, and being more generous and thoughtful probably comes under that.
Being healthier? Well, I eat salad and am a vegetarian, but giving up alcohol? And crisps? Probably not.
At the end of our time here, I would imagine very few of us can genuinely say we have no regrets, that there was nothing we could have done better. Of course we could.
Instead of kicking a ball about, heading to the pub for a pint or watching TV, we could, for instance, have gone out litter picking, dedicated some of our time to a foodbank or just done some work for the good of our community.
Most of us didn’t do any of that, and I’m not saying we all have to be Mother Teresa (though seeing the nuns at the Ave Maria Missionaries of Charity handing out food parcels in Liverpool as I headed off to spend money in yet another pub did set me thinking), but you can at least try to learn through life and leave the planet having done more good than bad.
If the opposite is judged to have been the case, then that really would be something to regret.