Thursday, February 28, 2008


Every once in a while when the right conditions come together (there's a sky, there's weather) for no apparent reason I spontaneously engage in that fascinating privilege afforded the elder: I look back over my life and think about all the things I might have done differently, ponder all my errors, all my rewards, how many more of each there could have been.

If I'd done this I might have been rich; if I'd done that I might have been famous; if I'd taken that turning I might have been powerful etc. But what are the worth of these things, after all? (One of the privileges of age is that you can ask such questions at last, with experience at your back.) In any case, you must in the end let them fall away. There are many more genuinely fulfilling and naturally delightful paths, that travel more peaceful ways.

What I did instead of all those things was to jump off the career ladder before I'd climbed too high: at the age of 30, to travel my own path at my own pace around the real world, earning my way as I went, making many mistakes along the way, taking many wrong turnings - serendipity being the point - learning thereby the basis to all the good and bad there is out there, what they both mean, their nature and how they function; I have lived in many countries and made many lifelong friends, and as a result not of my own doing after all, I have been truly happy, satisfied with my life; my only regrets are my own as well, and who does not have regrets?

My greatest worldly regret is not having always paid enough attention to the whole picture; my motives were always the best I could choose, given the time and materials at hand. But who can see or say all? Who can be all? Anyway, life is a learning curve, as long as you keep moving.

To the extent I could, I have been what I consider worth being: a person unafraid to be a fool in order to learn, a person open to free-range experience. I have lived in such a way that when at last the shell of what I was is tossed atop the rising mound, perhaps I will have been, for at least some of these brief moments, the world's oyster.


samcandide said...

a man after me own heart

A nice little self-reflective essay. I enjoyed it.

Edward J. Taylor said...

Regarding oysters, already seems like the world was yours..