Archive for March, 2014

the lightness of being

Regrets? I’ve had a few. But then again, too many to mention.

Not quite how the song goes? Well, you have your version and I have mine. But whether too few or too many, the idea that regrets should not be mentioned is not a refusal to deal with the past, but an acknowledgment that mistakes have been made and that we must move on. Holding onto regrets will put you in stasis. Living in old regrets keeps you from living life now.

I always find myself saying, “If I could go back, I would do such and such.“ Intellectually, I know I cannot go back. Emotionally, I yearn for that more than anything. Since it is not going to happen, I need to swing my vision around 180 degrees and look forward.

As we get older, we find our options narrowing. We see time collapsing before our eyes. All long range plans become short term plans, with those becoming even shorter. It is time to shift gears and use my regrets not as self–flagellation but as a guide for living well in whatever remaining years, months or days I have left.

In my years before today I put great stock in the accumulation of things. Somehow I thought that was the road to happiness. I bought into the idea that he who dies with the most toys, wins. This is a regret, for now I know that the experiences in life hold value that things never will, never could.

I find myself wanting to dump the “things” in my life like a shed skin. I look around and ask myself, “Why do I have that?” Too often I can find no reason that stands up to an honest evaluation. More and more I want to “have” to live, not live to have. I am starting to falter under this burden of “stuff.”

My mother comes to mind at the moment. She went through a period, probably about this same time in her life, where she started divesting herself of all sorts of things that she had “outgrown.” She gave away or sold books, antiques, furniture – nothing was safe. It’s not like she cleaned out the house, more like she was lightening the load on her being. Perhaps she felt as I do now.

I have the queerest urge to scale down my stuff and my expenses to the absolute minimum so that I can enjoy the doing of things rather than the dealing with things. It almost sounds like the typical retirement dream; buy a motor-home and travel the country. Well, what’s wrong with that? How much longer will I be able to do something like that? Will not doing it just become a current regret?

Perhaps it is the butterfly in me coming out. I hope it is because I am starting to feel suffocated in this chrysalis.


Yes, 329 pounds on the scale this morning. There, are, I believe, less stressful and less painful ways of committing suicide. What is the way out of this morass? A way out that doesn’t mean the final way out? How to live the rest of whatever years I may have left in the most positive fashion I can instead of sinking to the bottom anchored by my own self-pity and self-loathing?

I went to put on my light jacket the other day. I was a snug fit in the fall. It was a no fit in the spring. I bought a new jacket. It fits. It looks ridiculous on me, but no more ridiculous than any other jacket would look. I wish I would give birth to this child in my belly and be done with it. At least the jacket would look better.

Somehow, I need to be born again. I thought that had happened nine years ago (has it really been that long?), but it is starting to feel more like it was a still birth. Reinvention isn’t an easy thing to do when going around in the same old circles. Perhaps it is not even possible, given the length of time I would need to dig myself out of the hole I have dug for myself over sixty-three years.

I wish I could find that shining landmark on the horizon which would guide me to the Shangri-La I seek. Even that, though, would be useless if I cannot find the way to make it from here to there. I am at a loss.

bookmark: the sun also rises

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

The advice they always give to writers is to write about what you know. Hemingway certainly is a member of this school of writing. Comparing this book with A Moveable Feast, you almost get a sense that these two books are like Part One and Part Two of the same story, in spite of the fact that this book is fiction and A Moveable Feast is non-fiction/autobiographical.

In truth, autobiographical fits The Sun Also Rises as well. I suspect that it really is just a combining and retelling of actual events in Hemingway’s life (minus the nature of the main character’s war wounds). It makes me wonder just how much of the book was based on his personal experiences.

Certainly his descriptions of the bullfights in Pamplona were based on personal experience. I know I will never see a bullfight, and that it has to be much more intense in person, but Hemingway has described it in detail enough for me to feel as though I have been there.

I’ve just taken a few moments to wander around the internet looking at commentaries on this book. I do not like to do that before I read a book because I like to form my own opinions and impressions. I appear to be correct about this being autobiographical, if not in exact detail then damn close to it.

A book like this can make me feel like I have lived in a different time and place, while at the same time cause me to realize what a sedate, safe and parochial life I have led. It makes me want to experience more of the world, or at least wish I had experienced more of the world in my youth, if I hadn’t been such a cowardly young man.

(Finished 3/4/14)