In reflection, I have had a great life (and so my people don't freak out - I expect to have a lot more)...been everywhere - done everything (sometimes twice). When I was much, much younger, my observation of "old" people (anyone over 50) was that they worked their whole life and then, when they were incapable of "having fun", they retired and slowly withered away.
So, I had my fun on the front end. Mostly, for the fifteen-year span between 1969 to 1984, I did it all (or so I thought). I was self-employed, coming and going as I pleased, no responsibilities or tie-downs, traveled around the world, long-haired, Peter Fonda style motorcycle lifestyle (if you are under 50 you probably don't get it) on my own personal Magic Carpet ride.
I had it dialed...having my fun on the front end of my life - while I was capable and was not yet a doddering old fool, incapable of getting around, waiting for the gold watch and wasting away in an old folks home. It came true - I did have it dialed and for the most part I have few regrets (if you believe you don't have any regrets - then you probably didn't live close enough to the edge).
Oh, so fast forward - 30+ years (where the Hell did that time go?) and now I am getting my gold watch but having no intention of doddering around in the old folks home, but, rather pasting another 20 year span of "do what I want-when I want" on the back end of this crazy ride. Pretty cool. If I don't get the full 20 on the back end...it has been quite a ride - very satisfied.
The middle 30 years was well-worth it for its own merit - lots of lessons learned the hard way - which, ironically, has greatly enhanced my ability to finally recognize the truly good life when it is right in front of me. I didn't have that benefit on the front end of my life and that is where the regrets come in. That was quantity.
I can tell you, with the wisdom of the ages, that with all my travels, all over the world, I have never seen anyplace or anything - that even begins to compare to the sight of your own little children running towards you with outstretched arms - with absolutely, unfailing love in their eyes, yelling "Daddy, Daddy - Daddy's home" and leap into your arms. Anything that may have been wrong with your day...just melted away. (Ian gets it).That is Quality.
Those that decide to not have children grace their lives, will never be able to find that "IT" in a top-down convertible sports car - cruising down Hwy 1 to Carmel or sipping wine at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
My sister did the opposite. Off to college, did the right thing and worked forever and got her gold watch. Along the way, she got the same unbelievable experience of being a Mom to beautiful girls and now gets to "play with the baby" again with her children's children. Having a grandchild on your knee - is an instant snapshot of your life and the way too fast flash that it was.
To contradict my long-held conviction that life was over at 50...my sister and my brother-n-law have smoked the competition for a wild and exciting life on the back end...hiking the long way to Machu Picchu, zip-lining through the jungle in Costa Rica, renting small yachts and piloting themselves through the Bahamas and beyond...thus belaying the myth that you can't have it on the back end as well. So much for doddering.
Mixing quality with quantity is possible. Hopefully, my sister and I are inspirations to our children and the little pieces of our Mom - Grace Margaret - that will live on through her progeny for generations to come.
Whew...a lot to be grateful for.