Wednesday, December 31, 2014


It's been an interesting, wonderful, confounding year. It's been so much about experiences, challenges and turns that were never anticipated at the end of 2013. One of the things I'm grateful for is reference points, like the ending of a year, and the New Year, that get me to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going.

In this moment, looking backward and forward, I have to say that I've spent more than enough time regretting and lamenting. I'm sure it had to do with turning sixty, and with the self-assessing and measuring, I've been doing. And I'm confirmed in my belief that regretting has a lot more to do with things I didn't do, than about things I did.

I used to think that regretting was about shame, about doing something wrong or poorly, or with selfish intent, and wishing it could be undone. Yes, I've had lots of occasions for that. But for me, most regret has come in the form of things I thought of doing, wanted to do, but didn't. This regret is about the loss of dreams.

So, my most common lament in recent years has been about not being bolder in my dance with life; not leading, and so much time being led. So much of the not doing and not acting has been about fear. So much fear about what might happen, what could happen, all the things I measured as more likely to happen than the thing dreamed of, or fear of that improbable but devasting, horrible consequence.

What I've come to recognize is that everything that comes in life is unexpected. Even the things that come as planned for and as expected are so full of the richness of existence that they explode all preconceptions. And at the same time, the new and the unexpected are everywhere, and possibilities abound. Fear doesn't really have much of a place in all this. Fear is all about anticipation, and real life, when it comes, will crowd most of it out. So much better to focus on love than fear, to move toward the loved thing, than away from the thing feared.

As I wrote earlier, there's been too much attention to regret. And, it's ridiculous, because my life is so full of incredible freedoms and connections, of beauty, of being with and working with people I love, appreciate, admire, opportunities to create, to experience, accomplish, appreciate. How can I experience regret with all this? I guess it's that inner, human fallibility, that keeps me wanting more, always measuring and assessing, finding fault.

I don't think I'll cure these tendencies in myself. But none of that can override the rest. The wonder and beauty of simple things remains. You people, you fellow travelers are the very best of it, and I look for another year of being constantly surprised at your magic, at all the newness you create.

I wish for you whatever boldness is required for you to seize that next dream, take that next plunge, before you pass it entirely by and can only look back with regret.

Joni Mitchell wrote a most wonderful song, with the words, "...beautiful lovers I never got the chance to kiss." Ahhh, what aching there is in those words. I can relate.

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