Walking Backward  

rm_connor696 62M
944 posts
8/26/2006 10:05 am

Last Read:
11/3/2006 11:49 am

Walking Backward


"Regrets? I had a few / But then again, too few to mention."

Honestly, I prefer the Sid Vicious version of "I Did It My Way" to the one by Frank Sinatra--not because the former is musically superior (it isn't) but because it is more, well, poignant. Maybe poor old Sid didn't have that many regrets, but his choices certainly came with some pretty shocking price tags.

I have mixed feelings about regrets, though. Maybe they are avoidable. Sure, choices face us at every turn, not the simple this or that of Robert Frost's "Road Not Taken" but rather the crippling surfeit of opportunity figured in Jorge Luis Borges's "Garden of the Forking Paths," a four-dimensional maze with shifting walkways and trick partitions that open and shut willy-nilly. Can we navigate the maze of life without a misstep, without ever once being forced to turn back in anguish, knowing that a wrong turn has cost us something--time, perhaps--that we can never regain?

Maybe so. At least some people claim to have lived such lives, lives with too few regrets to make it worth their mention.

But many of us, and maybe even most, know the weight of regret all too well, the tension in the back of your throat and rush of pressure swelling your chest when you catch the still-reverberating echo of some huge, implacable door slamming shut with the finality of yesterday. Like dear old Wiley Coyote having taken one step too many, we can only tough out the vertigo as the gravity of time casts us into the chasm while, in a timeless moment of stasis, we look longingly back at the terra firma we so thoughlessly and irrevokably left behind.

Regrets are by definition unpleasant: "that which I should have done I did not do" chisled on a tombstone as an epitaph. And so it seems that we should avoid them, that the good life is precisely the one that has no regrets worth mentioning. But I wonder. I sometimes feel--and sometimes say--that the one regret I would truly regret would be to live a life without regret. I don't just mean that a life lived largely without regret would likely be a life lived without great risk and hence without great payoff. There's something to that, I suspect, but maybe the dice could always fall in your favor. Maybe the bill might never come due. And that, I think, is the heart of the matter. Suppose you do get through the dance of life without ever having to pay the piper. How will you ever know its worth? For that matter, how will that dance ever have any worth? How will you ever be anything but a spoiled rich kid whose world is as a vacuous and insubstantial as are his desires in it?

And that, I suppose, leads to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: not just that I know the value of what I have because I have valued that which I lost but also and even more deeply that the very notion of value is given in the experience of loss: you don't actually value anything until you actually lose something. Yes, it's a grand thing, a rare old thing, to live your life by your own lights, to live it "your way." But that can be grand only because you have at other times lived otherwise, because looking back you have known the regret of the road not taken.

"And I shall be telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence.
Two roads diverged in a wood . . ."

I'm still not sure how it is, but these holes, these absences, make my life a thing of greater weight and substance than it would be otherwise. And how can I regret that?

catkit13 68F

8/26/2006 10:35 am

wow! robert frost, frank sinatra, sid vicious, wiley coyote, and paris hilton by description - all in one post! thanks for the thoughtful thoughts
your friend in the desert
cat


rm_connor696 replies on 8/27/2006 8:58 am:
Heh. Writing as a mental junk drawer! (Which reminds me that the original meaning of "glory hole" was actually something like a junk drawer, but we need not go there . . . )

rm_saintlianna 46F
15466 posts
8/26/2006 10:55 am

Eh, Im tired of regreting shit, its a waste of energy. Thats the only thing I really do regret, all that wasted time.


rm_connor696 replies on 8/27/2006 9:04 am:
Oh my, yer holiness, I always figured you for one of those people entirely above regret!

Should we blame the nuns? Yes, let's!

florallei 100F

8/27/2006 1:10 pm

Connor, You have such a way of making your words dance in my head!
"I did it my way" was Papa's song that he often sang so very well. It always chokes me up when I hear it. The hour he died I heard that song and when I drove home from the hospice the phone rang telling me he had passed on. It was as if he was telling me, one of those coincedences, I don't know but I knew he died when I heard it.

I have moved forward inspite of the past burdens small and great. I have never been a melancholy or sentimental type. I live now for the moment and for all the tomorrows that I hope to yet taste, if God can grant me more decades on this planet.
flo


rm_connor696 replies on 8/28/2006 8:22 am:
Just be glad you didn't hear me try to sing!

Mermaidslut 51F

8/30/2006 1:36 pm

Two roads diverged in a wood . . .one to the left, one to the right. Soon came the map maker, drawing the divergent elements into a new layer of understanding that help effect choices of those who come after.


no regrets,
even over having lost something
well worth regretting the loss over,

simply because,
at least for awhile,

it once was


rm_FreeLove999 48F
16127 posts
9/1/2006 2:18 am

*sigh* i regret that you are so far away. i would love to spend time with you...



[blog freelove999]


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