There is an interesting comment thread on a post at Brian Leiter’s philosophy blog in response to the question, “What would be your biggest regret if this were the last day of your life?” The article Leiter links to is by a nurse who has asked this question of many patients over their last days, and kept track of their replies. The biggest regrets are not surprising: people feel that they tried too hard to meet others’ expectations; that they spent too much time working; that they did not take enough time to watch their children grow. The comments on Leiter’s post, mainly from philosophers and lawyers, are more reflective, thoughtful, and interesting than most other comment threads are, in my experience. If you are considering a career in law, note well the regrets expressed by several successful lawyers that they work so many hours that they have very little time for fun, family, or love.
It is a question worth spending some time thinking about. Many of the things we work so diligently toward – successful careers, becoming rich or famous, getting an A from Huenemann – really aren’t the sorts of things that will make us feel we have lived a successful life. And many of the things that will lead to that feeling are very close at hand. Memento mori, my friends.