Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No Looking Back, No Regrets

I recently read a novel where one of the characters comes to the conclusion that she chose the life she would regret the least. Her voice acknowledged that one tends to romanticize the life (or lives) one doesn't choose. She goes on to say that all choices contain regret, but the one we can live with...that's the one we end up "sealing the deal" with. As I read this, I had to stop. You know, because it's one of those moments in a novel that end up hitting home in a poignant way and pack a subjective powerful punch. The words convey some abstract meaning you've felt or "known" but you haven't quite expressed it verbally to yourself yet. And...there it is - a form of synchronicity; a whisper saying "here's your answer."

I grew up hearing the saying "no looking back, no regrets" from another fictional tale. I've weaved the theme and words into one of my own fictional stories. I've tried to live by its meaning and sometimes I do. But at times I do what most of us humans do. I reflect and ponder about the "other" choice I didn't make and the life (or lives) that could have been. I romanticize those lives, thinking of the "good stuff" that would have been and the feelings of fulfillment I might have felt. I imagine I might have been "happier," whatever "happier" really means. Then I realize I couldn't have made that choice. In fact, I didn't make it for a very good reason - regret. I chose a different life, a different path I felt would be less regretful. I experience my current life, my current choice and realize "happiness" is here, too. It comes and goes, like it would with any existence and path. But what matters is that I can live with my lessons and the choices I make feel good. Not the type of "feel good" that gives you an exuberant high; the type you can wake up with and go to bed with every night. It's the type you feel no attachment to. It's different than contentment and freedom, but they're the closest words I can find.

Whatever it is, I feel it. I feel it with my life as I choose to remain in my current position at work, while continuing to pursue my writing the best I can. I feel it with my choice to remain close to my family and start working on the rooms in my basement. I feel it as I teach myself a new writing form in preparation for an internship application. I also feel it as I continue to implement my life's "project period contract." I feel it as I let go of expectations and begin to feel comfortable saying "no." I feel less regret over not choosing the "other" and realize with very little doubt that the choices I make are what I would have chosen anyway.

So even though the saying of "no looking back, no regrets" is just an understanding of a desired state, the edges of its meaning are still a possibility. Maybe we accomplish it. And maybe we see awe in what we're conscious of without wondering why what couldn't be isn't real.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I'm not a big believer in "destinations." Not anymore. The reasons are simple. And some of them are complex. We think of life's "ultimate destination" as death. But that's just another way of saying we transition into a different form of existence. So it's not really a "destination" in the concrete sense. If we think about our life's journey, we never really "end up" somewhere. Not if we value growth - whether that growth is internal, external, or a combination of the two. Four years ago, I made the decision to explore a different possibility of who I could be. I had my ideas and my "grandiose notions" of how it might turn out. As I started actually walking the journey's path instead of just visualizing it, I came across a few things I wasn't expecting. I didn't expect to feel out of place or find myself more connected to an employer (and job) I took as a "back-up" plan. I also didn't realize I was going to start feeling and recognizing the full impact of the head injury I incurred at the end of 2009. I certainly didn't expect to be asked to take on a leadership position with my employer or know what I would feel when I was asked repeatedly to apply for my outgoing boss's job.

But here I am at my last residency, feeling the same thing deep within that I felt last year. I've applied for a position I will do my best to succeed in, but it's not going to be where I feel the most at home. Though this time around there is one difference. I wanted to apply for the position I'm currently in, but I do not want to take on the responsibility of being a department head. Although I've been given the reasons why I'm the "one" they have in mind (MBA, "softer" with people, I don't have a "black & white" perspective, detail-oriented), I never once received an "intuitive hunch" that this was coming. Last year, I did. I knew (felt) strongly that I was going to be asked to take on my current position. And I felt I was ready, I could do it, and it was something I needed to do. So now I have to this year a "test" I've given myself? Now that about to graduate with my MFA, knowing that now I feel at home with the "idea" of being a full-time writer, and even with being "here," is this choice a "test" of what kind of life I'm going to choose?

If this is indeed a test of which "destination" I'm going to head towards, then maybe it's not a "test" at all. Life has a way of bringing you back to your deepest (sometimes unconscious) desire. In the "end" it doesn't matter what you choose. Eventually you get to live out pieces of whom you've wanted to become, as long as you decide to start taking the step of chance.

To be continued.......

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Most of us forget that our lives are intangible. It's easy to forget when we're in our physical bodies and see things we can touch all around us. October is a month of anniversaries and illusions. The anniversary and illusion of my birth and the anniversary and illusion of my second father's death. It's also the illusion of nature's death. It appears to be dying, shedding its skin, but really it's just another stage. Another cycle before it begins a new life again.

A lot of things whisper to us, if we're willing to listen. Some we can't explain. Some we think we see. Some we only feel. The dance between truth and illusion is thin. I think both of them last, especially when you can see both. And sometimes it takes someone else's voice to remind us of what we already know.

When I'm not here, I'll still be with you. You won't see me, but you'll hear my voice and you'll feel my light. It won't be hard. Just wish, or don't wish. It doesn't matter because I can't leave. You might see me at night, the way you knew me. You and I might sit down and chat like old friends. We might walk together under these branches, sipping the nectar of orange-red tulips and watching the petals drop to the ground in random ribbons. Sometimes it's a garden, full of lushness and mountains we've already climbed in the distance. Sometimes it's arid and bare, overgrown with prickly weeds and nothing's pretty or manicured. But see the dandelions? Still yellow and bright? Showing their beauty in darkness? That's you and me.

Dandelions? Really? I can hear your words speak to me in breaths hidden in pockets of air. It isn't like you to question what I say. Where is the voice who admired everything and wrestled with sadness and tears when she thought I left. Your heart was heavy when you knew I was gone. But what you didn't know was that I never left. I was always inside you, waiting for you to wake up; waiting for you to see who you really were. You finding me - you thought it was an illusion. A vivid dream of chance that took you away from your pain. I was never the illusion. The illusion was what you wanted to see.

Now you see both. Truth and illusion. Truth is you stopped seeing me. You believed in what you could touch and what seemed real. But the illusion only seems real because what's underneath is truth. You could always see that about me. What was beneath my dream and why I dreamt what I dreamt. There are no excuses here, and if I hurt you, I hurt myself. Courage was my battle. I think yours was acceptance. Not of what you saw, but what you could have and who you could be. Potential isn't something we strive for, it isn't something "out there" we can't touch. It's here, always. We just have to learn how to see.

Courage. I talk about it a lot. I judge people for not having it. For not picking up everything and following your dreams, or your heart, or whatever it is that you want. But the thing is, you always had more courage than me. You never fell in love with shiny, pretend things. Or kept lying when the truth was so obviously unhidden.

She said once. I said once. We all have to have our dreams. But it’s nice to be here in reality. Reality can be the dream, too.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Checking Out

I arrive at the airport early. Mostly because I have nothing else to do, no hotel room to go back to, and I don't want to risk the chance of getting caught in an afternoon traffic jam coming back from the beach. It's only a few hours to waste and I can write or I can sleep or I can find a character among the people I'll be watching.

I decide to eat lunch, but can't find anything I want so I settle for what I already know. Mocha frappuchinos and overpriced deli sandwiches. In front of me are college-aged kids and behind me is the typical Beverly Hills yuppie couple, complete with their Paris Hiltonesque dog. They don't bother me - they look almost normal. I help them pick up the coffee sleeves they spill out of the container on accident and we all laugh.

Someone else steps in front of the line, gazing intently at the menu. He is serious and determined. Not unapproachable, but you can tell he does not want to talk. At first I stare a little, because I recognize him and yet I'm not sure. It is his eyes that confirm my suspicion, not anything else. I look away and go on with my day. I don't approach him. I don't say anything. He is just a person, like me. Trying to get a bite to eat. Trying to catch a flight. Someone asks for his autograph and I see him give it somewhat begrudgingly. She smiles gregariously after she gets what she wants. Thankfully she is the only one I see approach him. Everyone else pretends to ignore him or they don't recognize him or they don't care.

I don't flinch or feel anything when he stands by my chair, looking for a place to sit. He sits down, eats, reads his Rolling Stone, waits for his flight and then leaves. I am somewhat desensitized to seeing people from television and the movies in real life. I am used to having to treat them like a "normal" person. I have seen them "backstage." Some moody, some acting like the characters they play, some acting like they are above everyone else, some viewing their place in life as no more "special" than the rest of the universe.

I am used to walking among people who have Wikipedia entries and archives of interviews on famous talk shows, Internet sites and magazines. No one is the same in person as when they are performing their chosen persona(s). No one is the image you see in their pictures. People forget that the hype and the illusion are just that - hype and illusion. These are just people who have chosen a certain job. A job that puts them in the public eye. But when they step out of the eye's glare, all some of them want is peace. To be "normal," if there is such a thing. An invisible life, stripped of everything that's not real.