As my own death approaches, I weigh the life I have lived against what it might have been. I ask myself: Could I have been wiser, could I have done more? When I look at my life this way from the end, I can take satisfaction that I mostly gave it my all and did what I could. Perhaps I might have achieved greater heights; certainly I could have spent fewer days in pain. But I have no cause to think that, given who I was, my life could have turned out much better. Considering the bad choices I sometimes made, it might have been a lot worse.
It is the certainty of death that finally makes a life acceptable. When we live as fully as we can, what room is left for regret? The poet Eliot observed that there are no lost causes because there are no won ones. Everything falls to the same imperfection. Eventually, without exception, we will follow the same arc to earth.
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