Sunday writing in bed, a candle burning and it's raining really, really hard. It's kind of perfect, actually.
I have so much stuff to do. Stuff stuff stuff. Tomorrow's a big "things are due" day and although I'm kind of worried about all of that - mostly because my profiles are in shambles and I don't have the sources I need or the quotes I need or the interviews I need - I really have to grasp on to the big picture here, and realize that it always gets done, it's always over, there's always something else that comes along right after and in the in-betweens there are many, many moments to breathe and eat and sing. I find myself singing a lot lately, which is nice. I'd kind of stopped.
I sometimes wish I'd been natured or nurtured to be a calmer person, although if I lost the buzz and the adrenaline who knows if I'd then be some boring lame person who talked about floor tiles like other people should care. I've been in a mood that makes sense given the dates, because unfortunately I am a girl, plus when I get this overloaded with work I tend to gravitate towards the white noise enhancers in my brain. It's an unfortunate pattern. I was driving to my friend's house yesterday and realized that damn, I was in a foul mood. And unlike other periods in my life where the foul mood was so much the state of being that it was the rule, it struck me as an unusual and annoying exception. So of course I chalked it up to chemistry and moved along.
It has to be chemistry when I vacillate every other second on the same topic, when I get the urge to tell uncomfortable truths and reopen conversations that are long dead with people who no longer care...when I start second, third and fourth-guessing decisions I made in all grown-up solidity and good sense and self-preservation. When Pop-Tarts seem like a reasonable all day sort of food. When I want to show John Kerry (God, remember him?) how real flip-flopping is done and do things that are, quite frankly, self-destructive. When I long for the grand gesture that is not to be confused with the creepy, weird gesture, please. When I start thinking is this WHAT IT ALL MEANS? Is this ALL IT IS?
Chemistry. Chemistry makes me stupid and steers me from my path. Chemistry tells me to take risks, to ignore propriety and sense and the art of the long view. Chemistry also might make things more expedient sometimes, but I don't really need my own reality show. So I stopped myself, literally, got hold of myself and was like hey little girl, you need to just stop it right now. You need to be smart and you need to be quiet and you need to just SIMMER DOWN.
My grandmother used to yell that at my cousins and me when we were little and we'd act up, either separately or together. I always thought the image of myself as a pan of soup going from boiling to flat was amusing...still do, actually.
So I made a French press of coffee and put myself to bed to work (alone, sorry!), which is the best way I know to simmer down these days (and isn't THAT a sad departure from experiences past? This was not supposed to depress me!) I talked to my funny and refreshingly straightforward friend Eli, who always makes me laugh and tells the truth. And although I haven't been reading blogs with any consistency since school began to slowly consume my brain, I stumbled across Sarah Brown's post about regrets, which was timely. I like her take on the subject.
This sounds like a downer, but it’s actually kind of fun. There are the obvious ones that stand out at first, but it’s the careful combing of your life’s back stairs that makes this interesting. The main rule is your regret can’t be an undoing. Think of the Mark Twain quote, “Twenty years from now, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do, rather than the things you did.” If you ignore this rule, this game quickly deteriorates into My Life’s Bad Romantic Decisions, or Why Did I Ever Say/Do/Ingest That, which I suppose are both valid games, but not nearly as fun. I mean, sure, there are two or three people in my life that I honestly wish I’d never met, but you have to respect the Back to the Future rules, and accept that you dated this guy or were friends with that girl, and you are where and why and how and who you are now in part because of that. It’s not about beating yourself up; it’s more of an inventory of the ships that you allowed to set sail.
- Not having the guts to tell people to back off when they've gotten in my personal or psychic space because I'm afraid of confrontation or hurting feelings.
- Not buying a house in Dayton when I totally could have.
- Not performing in more plays in high school or keeping it up in college.
- Not living on campus
- Not having the nerve to ask the difficult questions because I was afraid it would end when it was over anyway. It took so long to catch up, and the feelings of stupidity, how they linger.
- Leaving the hospital and vacuuming the carpet.
- Uttering dismissive words in the Santa Fe that night instead of taking the risk to say how I really felt.
- Any time I've held back from singing, dancing or otherwise expressing myself because I felt stupid.
- Not seeing Duran Duran on the Seven and the Ragged Tiger tour.
- Ripping up the cards I haven't sent.
- Sending that e-mail.
- And that other e-mail.
- But not that one.
- Not seeing my grandmother more.
- Training myself to believe that my feelings don't matter.
- Being mean to Shannon Mitchell in high school.
- Not articulating exactly what I wanted because I thought it was clear.
- Not playing sports/being more active as a child and in high school.
- Sitting on the couch & eating ice cream in some kind of delusional fog the year after I came home from Ohio and gaining the weight back that I worked my ass off to lose.
- Any time I stopped an exercise program.
- Not going for the second interview at the other store.
- Not learning how to play an instrument or write a song in spite of several flailing attempts.
- Not getting my finances in order in my 20s and early 30s.
- Not seeing more of the world (working on it.)
- Letting that mortgage broker scare me to death.
- Any time I whined.
- Any time I yelled. Yelling isn't necessary. I don't really yell anymore.
- Any time I complained about my dog wanting to play with his ball. Or have food I was eating. Or had an accident. Love what you love, people. Make space for it and nurture it and know that if it's that important in your life - if it brings you happiness and makes time for you - even if it's an animal that depends on you for food and therefore has an ulterior motive - it's precious.
And I guess that's it, the major regret you - or I, at least - want to avoid - not loving what you love while you have it to love (even if it's just you or your very life itself,) forgiving it its imperfections, living large and loud in ways that make sense for you and don't bum other people out. Because it's all wispy here, ephemeral and strange and not at all about what we think it is most of the time. It's real easy for me to get caught up in the person-made constructs, in the day to day stress and logistics and ImustIhaveto kind of things. It's so dumb to do that, it's so not what the real spirit and joy of life is about, because honestly, a lot of it doesn't matter. And I'm not talking about flaking out, not at all, or saying, "OOH, I don't have to pay for my car anymore because that's not about the spirit and joy of life! And I'm just going to sit on my ass in a field of flowers and pick them and hand them out to people in the airport!" No. I'm just talking about staying mindful of the big picture, of the things that really matter, and not getting caught up in the stupid minutiae such that it jams up your brain for the important stuff. I've been there a bit lately and it's showing.
If there's a theme for my list of regrets, it's fear and laziness, whether it's physical or emotional, and fear especially sucks. Fear-based thinking and acting sucks, and when it's all - whatever it all is - said and done, it won't have done anyone any bit of good. It'll just have held things back, and I can swear to this, it doesn't love you back either in any way, shape or useful form. And if you have any sense, yo, you really only want things in your heart and head that love you back, I promise.