A subtle scent of cologne, spring flowers and fresh cut grass danced in the breeze. Walking through the park on that warm spring evening brought back memories of summer nights long past. Laughing with friends, swooning soiree’s with soon to be boyfriends and that instinctive consciousness that only youth seem to encompass wholeheartedly – that life is never-ending. As the memories flood my minds eye that evening in the park, life slows to a motion so still I can feel the pulse of the floating fruit of the dandelion heads as they sweep by my cheek. The warm blues of the sunset sky tickle the hairs on my skin as a sigh encapsulates the openness of those musings. If this were a film the camera would pan slowly from my face, 180 degrees, capturing the deep dark greens of the trees soon to be silhouettes in the night, backlit by the warm glow of the lanterns turning on for their evening shift complemented by that rich blue sky. We were so young; bursting with dreams and desires and teenage angst. The world was big and beautiful and terrifying, filled with possibilities just wanting to be had.
What of it?
I’ve had many of those possibilities.
No longer terrifying.
In this past year…or two…or more, I’ve had a progressive sense of regret for almost every aspect of my life in how I’ve been taught to believe it’s supposed to be. The first strike, my first feelings of great failure were in regard to my romantic relationships…or should I say, romantic ineptitude, at least in how I was brought up to believe it was supposed to be. I think that it’s fair to say that according to our worlds doctrines, my romantic life could be considered a chaotic hot mess; a massive dump that smells exactly as you would imagine that massive dump to smell. I’ve had some nice, even amazing experiences, but more over I’ve had “experiences”, rather than committed, long, loving relationships. I’ve felt love…so there’s that…but to say it’s been a while is an understatement. I know that I’m capable because I’ve felt it before but wonder if it’s possible anymore; ironically the one thing I’ve desired most in my life is the one thing that has eluded me. To love completely is to be vulnerable, to be open to being ugly in mind, body and spirit and still believe that love will hold up. I’ve never been that brave to be that open and that I regret. I’m also different in what I desire in a relationship, not caring so much about the act of marriage and not wanting children separated me from the pack, leading to a wholly different kind of loneliness.
Of course I have that loneliness for that someone to share my life with, but I also feel a deep isolation in being so different from the masses, in so many ways.
My second hit of regret was more recent, in regard to my career. As an artist, and a painter no less, I’ve realized many great successes, some successes that some artists only dream of and yet still yo-yo financially. Our culture placing more importance on what’s in my bank account that my skill, passion and happiness.
A girls gotta eat, right?
I still have this brilliant dream, I dream of having a big old house that I’ve renovated; attached to the kitchen is a small room, surrounded by windows and shelves, covered in herbs with a huge butcher board island in the center for me to make all of my potions and tinctures and medicines, ‘cause secretly I’m a witch. Attached to that room is my greenhouse, build out of iron, the glass walls curving to meet at the top of the dome. Outside there’s a huge farmhouse table under a trellis with grape vines and ivy and twinkly lights. I cook for my family, comprised of my man, our immediate families, friends, and the dogs…of course. There’s almost always music playing somewhere and laughter. Over the ridge is a reconstructed red barn, in that barn is my studio, where all the magic happens. I’m surrounded by all the beings I love and am making art in one way or another ever day.
Friendships is my third regret. I still have great friends that I love who love me, but I moved…for the 6th time…to another city where I knew no one and have had to start from scratch…again. Anyone who does know me knows that sometimes, it takes a while for me to warm up, and that sometimes I’m a lot more shy than I seem, and that sometimes I put up walls because I’m scared of being hurt and left all alone…so I tend to isolate…which, safe to say, is counter productive. Let’s not forget to mention the fact that I’m an old lady…kidding…I’m a spring chicken…in my mind…but in my culture, I’m almost middle aged!
That just hit me.
Making friends at this age is a little more challenging than making them at younger ages. Probably why I do like younger people, they’re more open to new experiences and less jaded…like us almost middle agers.
Side note: I look fucking awesome!
With that revelation, if there were a time where I wish I had my favorite people around it is now. I miss that comfort of being around people who know me. I don’t have to talk about my past to explain my present. With my peeps I’m just me, and they are just them and we’re all ourselves, as much as we can be because we love each other the way we are. The time was already spent, we know our looks, our jokes, our connotations, our lectures, our insecurities and fears, our loves, hopes, dreams, laughs. We play, we joke, we get serious, we fight, we cry and laugh and hug and cook and sit and stand and dance and sing. We just are.
Regret in this magnitude can be all encompassing. It feels like death – I feel real visceral pain in my chest when the sadness rushes through me. It comes without warning and has no shame, I could be in the middle of a conversation, at a party, teaching in a full classroom, in a grocery store, driving down the highway and be hit. It’s like a sucker punch in my chest. My body heats up and the hole in my chest feels like an actual hole that’s just been ripped out of my body; like a pressure squeezing my heart, yelling, “I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU BE HAPPY TODAY! YOU WILL NOT FORGET WHAT YOU’RE MISSING! YOU WILL NOT FORGET ME!” This loneliness causes a pain so deep in my heart that I fear it is too large a hole to fill. I fear that my life of building “character” has left me tainted.
My sadness is treated like a disease.
My sadness is a symptom.
I’ve read that this loneliness is an increasing feeling amongst humans. This feeling of isolation is not even remotely mine to own and is growing amongst us with every generation. There are a plethora of rational reasons as to why this is. I could go in to all of them…but that would take all day…and I only have time for this evening. The truth is that the root cause is something much simpler than we’d like to believe, because the more challenging the cause the longer we can take to fix it, procrastination is part of the human condition and if we heal ourselves too quickly we’ll have to face ourselves completely and that prospect is terrifying.
I don’t FEEL in my heart that I’ve made mistakes. I don’t FEEL in my heart that I’ve made “wrong” choices.
I HEAR it in my head.
I FEEL that all of my choices have given me strength, wisdom, guidance, endurance, freedom, courage, and faith, a sense of humor.
My culture doesn’t celebrate the souls awakening as it does cerebral accomplishment; money, marriage, mundane minutiae.
I am no Buddha by far. I have no desire to live on a mountain top in silent meditation; nor am I Mother Theresa, although I have compassion for the homeless, I have no desire to dedicate my life to live in squalor for such a consuming cause.
I would say that I’m more like Mary Magdalene, I do desire to live my life by the Grace of God as I know It and am doing everything in my power to feel that freedom it’s just that at this time I’m in this crevice and it’s filled with pain and I’m not sure how to get out of it and maybe that’s the point. Maybe I’m not supposed to get out of it, but rather traverse through it. There are moments in every great experience where the challenge becomes so great you question whether it’s worth it to continue and you’re given a choice.
Quit and stay where your are or regress…or…
Brave the pain, find the courage and strength to live in it because you know it’s worth it on the other side.
Today I’m braving the pain. I don’t want to but I am regardless, in Faith that it will be worth it on the other side.