One question: Penn Jillette
What do you most regret in your life and why, what did you learn from it, and how would you do it differently if you could?
My mother and father never got to meet my wife and children. Emily, Moxie, and Zolten never got to meet my mom and dad.
My mom was 45 when I was born and I was 50 when Mox was born. My dad died when he was 88 years old and my mom died when she was 90 on the first day of the year 2000. She made it into a new number in the thousands but didn’t make it to meet her daughter-in-law and these beautiful grandchildren. I have no bigger regret. The family above me and the family below me were much the poorer for my bad timing. I talk to my children about their grandparents all the time, but all my words can never fill in for one smile from either Sam or Val. As I type this, I can’t see through my tears.
What I learned from this regret is that our biggest regrets are not mistakes but just life. This wouldn’t even be a regret if I didn’t have more love on both sides than my heart can handle. As Bob Dylan sang, “It frightens me the awful truth of how sweet life can be.”
The greatest thing about life is that we can’t go back and fix anything. And if I could go back and fix anything, I would go back and make sure we couldn’t ever go back and fix anything again. The only thing that keeps life moving forward, the only thing that makes it worth living is that time goes only one way. So I have to do my best to try to make my heart grow big enough to allow my parents’ love to time travel.
I guess if I could go back to before my parents died—I’d buy Apple stock.
Penn Jillette is one-half of the performing magic duo Penn & Teller at Rio. Call 702.777.7776 for ticket information.