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August 22, 2010

“Die, my dear doctor? That is the last thing I shall do.”

Lord Palmerston (attributed)

Life is just one damned thing after another said Elbert Hubbard. And that’s all that life is really, a series of events coming one after the other, from the moment you are born until the day that you die.
Some events are glorious, some are tragic, some are beyond our control, some are entirely within our own hands.

These are our accomplishments. Great or small, our accomplishments are the record of our lives, the things that are spoken of about us during life, and lionised after we are gone.

I no longer have great dreams. Growing up I wanted to be famous. Whilst studying law I wanted to become a judge on the International Court of Justice, or to become UN Secretary General.

My dreams are smaller now, less ambitious, yet no less important, because they are the things that hold greatness for us as individuals. I see no purpose in becoming famous, or infamous, of being great at something if I am not happy. Ultimately that’s all I want, all any of us want; simply to be happy.

So what do I want to accomplish before I die?

  • I want to be published by someone other than myself.
  • I want to be at a book-signing of my own work, and have a stranger ask me to sign a copy of my book.
  • I want to sell a few paintings that I have painted myself.
  • I want to be asked to create a piece of art for someone.
  • I want to write, and draw, and paint, and be able to earn enough from that to live a simple, contented life.

Note carefully that I don’t want to be a New York Times bestselling author. I don’t want to sell an oil painting for £5 million at Sotheby’s. I don’t want to be James Patterson, Damien Hurst, JK Rowling, Michaelangelo, William Shakespeare.

My dreams are modest, because they would bring me delight. And whilst I don’t think that fame and happiness are incompatible, I do feel that happiness is greater than fame. If fame came from something that makes me happy, I would not turn it away. But I won’t pursue greatness for the sake of someone else’s definition of success, if it would make me unhappy.

Ultimately before I die, I want to live, and be happy.

What one thing would you like to accomplish, or write about, before you die?

Palmerston of course did not actually give the quote at the start of the article. Seldom are last words so witty. In reality his last words were “That’s Article 98; now go on to the next”, which is not nearly as interesting. Though Groucho Marx did say something very similar.
  1. August 22, 2010 12:09 am

    There’s so much to be done before I die, that I almost don’t know where to start.

    I do have goals for 2010 and beyond, but perhaps I should do a “bucket list” as well.

    My most earnest goal is to make a significant contribution to society and see my children positively influenced by my efforts. If I can tick those boxes, it will have been a fun ride.

    Good luck with the writing and painting. I wish you every success.



  2. August 22, 2010 1:31 am

    I want to leave a mark. Hopefully, a good one my family can be proud of.

  3. August 22, 2010 12:25 pm

    My goal used to be happiness, but so many in the world aren’t. They are hard-working, noble, admirable, but not happy. So I tossed that goal and went esoteric.

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