What was your career like? Did you ever land that dream job and if so, how did you do it? How important did the money end up being? Did you take dreams over paychecks and struggle to follow your passion? Did you create something you loved? Did you work with integrity and honesty and drive? Were you a good mentor, and did you remember to give back to the people who looked up to you?
Did you take risks? Did you ever run that marathon, eat dessert whenever you wanted to, or drunkenly dance on top of that bar table? Did you see the movies you wanted to see? Which books were your favorites? Did you remember to put yourself first sometimes, not for the sake of being selfish, but for the sake of your own sanity?
Do you have kids? Did you ever decide whether or not you wanted to have kids, and if so, how did you know? Was it a light bulb moment or was it more of a gradual thing? Did you see some little girl or boy in the park one day while on a run and realize the pang in your heart was real, and it was telling you wanted to have a family of your own after all? Did you know you were ready or were you apprehensive, nervous? scared? And what were their names? What were they like? What age did you finally introduce them to Harry Potter? Are you proud of them? You must be so damn proud of them, I imagine, the way most parents are proud of their kids, should be proud of their kids. Do they have your eyes? Your freckles? Your left-handedness? Do they love you? Were/are you a good mom?
And if you didn’t have kids, how’d you decide? How’d you know they weren’t for you? Was there backlash when you made that choice? Was it even your choice?
Were you a wreck when your dog passed away? Do you remember how little he was when you first got him, when he was just a pup and chewed everything in sight including your favorite autographed Brewers baseball and snuggled up in your lap when you slept? How old was he? Do you remember the day when you looked at each other very seriously and realized that you were his human more than he was your dog? How do you survive outliving such an important part of yourself?
Did you travel the world like you always had wanted to? Did you explore your city as much as you could? Did you ever move back home? Or was homesickness just a comfortable constant, a small memento and reminder of your roots?
How did you meet the love of your life? Did you ever have one? Or were there many, and if there were, did one stand out? What were they like? What did they do, and how did they take their coffee? Did they prefer pancakes, waffles or French toast? Could they smack talk sports like no body’s business and make you ugly snort laugh? What color were their eyes and did you feel safe in their arms and how and when did you know you loved them? Who said it first?
And if it ended, how did it happen? Was it bitter and full of spite, or was it simply two friends saying one last goodbye? I really hope it was the latter.
Do you regret anything? What do regret? And if you do, do those regrets outweigh your good memories? I hope they don’t. I hope the good far outweighs any kind of bad.
And most of all, were you happy? Maybe not all the time, because that’s the impossible goal, but overall, were you happy? Are you happy now? Did the things you did and the places you saw and the people you loved…did all those things bring you joy and give you meaning and fuel your drive and determination to make the world a better place?
I guess that last answer lies in me. Current me. Present day me. Right here and right now me.
Because the things you do now, and the people you love, and the dreams you chase determine whether or not you feel fulfilled in this moment. The risks you take build up larger rewards, and the things you choose not to do in the here and now determine your biggest regrets.
So chase after what you love now. And take your risks and leap off those cliffs and book those tickets to that new city and read as much as you can and love as hard as humanly possible.
And make the answers you’ll give when you’re older the best they can possibly be.