Friday, November 19, 2010


Who at my age doesn't have countless regrets? There is no way to get through even a well-lived life without regret. I'm not talking about the Waterloo of regret that everyone carries in the Napoleon of their souls, regrets that are even more pointless (less pointful?) for being so vast; no, I'm talking about the numberless nanoregrets, the rankle of instants, the turning points of the tiny dances that moments are, in which we performers of life are not as gracious or perceptive, sensitive, intelligent or discerning, thoughtful or eloquent in retrospect as we are now (retrospect grows with age), and as we now wish we had been been back then, were we thus gifted by the gods, for it is all a matter of godgifting, of probabilities, of impulses pulsed, chances taken and lost or won, the regrets being the times we got it wrong, and not on purpose.

There were some victories in there too, of course, the times we got it right, but we remember few of those, for they fit seamlessly into the natural flow of life, are not remarked upon especially by our mind's eye, and so in our habitual looks back do not cause a ripple on the horizon of the past; no, it is those little regrets, the nanonubs that forever rub the wrong way, the mini-if onlys and micro-I wishes-- It is bad to live too much in the past that way, but they make you do it, those little slivers in the mental underwear, those pebbles in the mindboots, those crumbs in the spirit bed.

None of us is alone in this; we all have such regrets, and the older we get - it's only natural - the more regrets we have. No one escapes this irreducible, utterly personal burden. By my age there's a whole diverse library of things I should/shouldn't have done/said, of turnings taken in youthful or other ignorance, word or silence, east or west, yes or no, decisions I made or didn't, things I could have done better or differently - such is one life, after all, and ignorance is beyond numbering.

But when I think about it, the brightness is that in all that cloud of misdoing I must have done so many forgotten things well, made so many good choices, because I'm still here, alive, sensing the darkness in a day's joy. And so I am privileged, in a way, to have all those regrets I pester myself with now and then, when I'm not paying enough attention to being--

When at last I do pay attention I realize that at the very least, I do know better, now.


ted said...

I seem to feel that if a person has lived a full and rich life (as you have Bob), it is not only regret, but the weight of all our memories that is sometimes difficult to carry. History can be unwieldy.

And regrets? I've had a slew. Most of 2010 has been regretting the decision to move back to the US. It has been an unhappy time.

Yet it is slowly dawning on me that seeking happiness is the mistake here. Far better to be present, because to be wrapped up in something usually brings joy. Your writing, and outlook, are a testament to that. Bravo Bob!

Martin J Frid said...

Regrets, wow, there are many. wish i had been betterp repared for math.....

Deep math and farming, now that would be good.

Robin said...

I do not know you. I can't even remember how I ran upon your blog, but I've been reading it off and on for almost a year. Your writing is truly wonderful! It brings me joy and deep contemplation.
Thank you so much.

Entre Nous said...

Regrets born from bad choices are the things better humans are made of.

Joy said...

Like Robin, I too have been reading your blog for a year or so, after chancing cross it as one of Ojisanjake's links. Your writing is evocative and heartwarming, and gives me numerous topics for my own contemplations.

And this post is so true and beautiful; yes, we do all have many regrets, both for the unintentional mistakes as well as the big dramatic 'gaaargh!' mistakes, but as you say, at least we do know better now ... and better late than never!


Robert Brady said...

Thanks for all the kind comments, folks. The good we do for each other is the finest remedy there is.

Tabor said...

I've been reading your blog since before you started having so many regrets and I have no regret about that!

Chancy said...

I can hear Old Blue Eyes singing "My Way" in the background of this post.

Chancy said...


"I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets I've had a few
"But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way"