The should haves and why didn’t I, are inevitably followed by the crushing weight of regret. I almost had a regret, a near miss, if you will. Mine was waiting too long to be fearless enough to pen a book with my quirky voice. Mrs. Lopez, a hardened by life, college professor, told me I shouldn’t write because I didn’t follow the rules. Take up business it’s more suited for your innovative style. She stopped me dead.
For too many years, I hid my passion from the world. I wrote under the light of the moon, in journals, but mostly on Par Avion blue paper. It wasn’t my ideal but I soared on those pages. I might have stayed in my comfort zone if not for the burly arms of fate. I cannot say it was luck because I don’t actually put much stalk in the rabbit’s foot, but there was a falling star. I wonder.
When destiny came barreling into my front door a few weeks after, it required immediate action on my part. There was no time for the plus and minus lists, no thoughtful consideration. It knocked me back against the wall and whispered in my ear. Are you game for the thrill of a lifetime? Will you jump without a net into the arms of the unknown, take a walk on the wild side? Heartache is a possibility but you’ll take with you a lifetime of memories. It’a win-win.
For me the decision was clear. It was more a calling than a choice. Today I was looking through my past for a regret and lesson learned for another essay I am writing, but I couldn’t lock on one worthy of my attention. I kept coming back to my near miss and Mrs. Lopez. I felt the urge to write her a letter, to explain that rules are guidelines and up for interpretation. I wanted to tell her about my life and the near miss, which almost cost me a life without passion. I didn’t but it got me thinking about all those other Mrs. Lopez’s out there in the world stomping on percolating passions.
The lost chance, the regret we revisit long after the moment to live it has passed, can render a person immobile when remembered. Breathing slows down until only the tiniest sips of air slip in and out. For the length of an expansive, fat and juicy, exhale, which spans the Ice Age in the mind, the body surrenders.
Somewhere, somehow, fortitude kicks in and pulls the mind lost in the pool of regret, out, and administers CPR. The heart, which almost stopped, resumes, and breaths are full and rejuvenating. Time returns to its steadied, predictable pace.
Your spirit slides back into your skin with each breath, unnoticed. The only sign of recovery is the rumbling of your mojo in the pit of your stomach. Your invincible Wonder Woman or Hulk like persona is ready to tackle the other side of regret. For some, it takes a hearty glass of Pinot Noir to steal the mettle before traversing the flipside.
I’ve never been sure which is worse, the why nots or the whys, not really.
Regrets, both the whys and why nots are not a subject I spend a lot of time debating with myself. Regretting past decisions, the good and the gnarly bad, is like saying to myself, you’re not who you say you are. I arrived at my current definition of me because of what I did and did not do over the years. Would I be the same if I had made a different choice at the crossroads of Chance and Fate? Would I have a villa in Barcelona and a hefty writing portfolio behind me if I had spit in the wind and chanced it?
I haven’t a clue, which is why I refuse to walk over my life picking it apart and why I didn’t write Mrs. Lopez a letter today.
What I know with certainty is my past is what makes me, me. I can’t cry over losing my heart, missing a plane, jumping without a net, saying goodbye, hello, or saying yes when I should have said no, or telling Mrs. Lopez to stuff her rules where the sun never ever shines. I cannot. To do so would say I am a fake and my history is fiction. It’s not. It’s full of intrigue, mystery, lovers and friends who were lost and found, books started, reread until the spine broke, while some were tossed aside after page ten. And, yes, I confess there are gnarly, scary bits, which require a glass or two of Pinot to unpack. There’s the lover who left me in pieces…
But that’s a story for another day.