Bummer! I Asked an Old Person What They Would’ve Changed About Their Life and They Said They Would’ve Worked Harder

When I approached an old person and asked if there was anything they would’ve done differently in their life, I was expecting them to say something along the lines of “Spend more time with family,” or “Stress less,” or even “Please leave me alone, I’m exhausted from a life well lived,” but instead, they told me they would’ve spent every year of their adult life working “harder,” “longer,” and, for some reason, “sadder.”


What am I supposed to do with that?


I guess I do have to take some of the blame; I was asking this person a leading question in hopes that their answer would justify my proclivity to log out of work early, not go for that run, and scroll on my phone for hours in a mindless daze. I just wanted some confirmation that being an unproductive, unfulfilled, boring little lump was actually a good way to spend my life, but instead of telling me I should actually spend more time in my bed watching YouTube videos, they said I should work an “elbow grease” job. I don’t even know what that means. 


Frankly, their answer was the exact opposite of what I was looking for and, honestly, a real bummer. Now instead of feeling validated, I just feel ashamed, confused, and lethargic from sitting on my couch all day. 


I knew I should’ve never struck up a conversation with my paternal grandfather. Never again.


The conversation even managed to take a turn for the worse, with my grandfather going into detail about how, if given the opportunity, he would’ve loved less, taken fewer vacations, eaten worse food, built a firelance, and killed that man in Albuquerque when he had the goddamn chance. 


He said he would’ve never told my grandmother how he felt about her because “feelings are for civilians.” Then he went into this long, rambling, unrelated story about his experience fighting in Vietnam and I honestly zoned out for a good half hour. When I zoned back in, he wrapped everything up by saying, “Yeah, if I could do it all again, I would just grind it out – 24 hours, seven days a week, just digging in the mud with nothing but my bare hands and a good pair of workman’s boots until I eventually keeled over and died of sheer exhaustion. Now, that’s a life.”



I’m not sure if he was saying he wanted to do that as, like, a profession? But I’m pretty sure the gist was “mud equals work and work equals good” which is something I do understand on a very basic level.


Even though my grandfather said he wished he had spent more of his life alone, and that he “regretted ever procreating at all” because “look what came of it,” I’m not ready to change the way I live just yet. When I asked my grandmother the same question, she offered a vague “Love more!” which is actually way more my speed. I can definitely love more while scrolling TikTok in bed!