“Oh my name is Frank O’Meara
And from Sydney I did come.
I taught the French to learn to speak
My Australian native tongue.”
My eulogist is unlikely to list this as one of my most remarkable achievements. It’s true that I was thoroughly committed to making France anglophone and even to teaching the French to pronounce the word “thoroughly”. But this was a side-line. With four score behind me and (far) less than one ahead of me, what, I ask myself, have I accomplished, what difference did I make, what contribution did I make to the stock of human knowledge and to the well-being of my fellow-travelers ?
Some people blow their own Trump-et. The Donald never heard of Bobby Burns (and if he did he probably thinks he was a boxer) and his “Would that we could see ourselves as others see us”. It doesn’t matter a ratz what I think I have achieved. But I do wonder whether anything I have done – or written – will be appreciated or even remembered by at least a few of my contemporaries (that would be miracle enough, without talking about future generations !). I guess we all need to make sense of our lives, to believe that we left the world better than it was when we entered it. Few can make that boast. But instead of trying – absurdly – to pat myself on the back, let me share a few of the regrets I have, now that I have entered the Autumn of my years.
- I would love to have had the intelligence of Hitchens, the talent of Pavarotti and the humility of Federer.
- I would love to have published half a dozen books that brought enlightenment and liberation to believers.
- I would love to have been a better son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague and blogger.
That’s about it. What I do NOT regret is having been a Franciscan and a Catholic priest (nor, obviously, having renounced both of these meaningless states of life), though I do regret having taken so long to become an atheist. Apart from that, I realize that though my life, compared with so many others, has been largely insignificant, I have loved living it and enjoying it for so long and with such luck. I could and should have been a better person. I got more than I gave. But, as lives go, mine was a bitta aw rye (I do NOT regret having been born Australian).