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Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Waking Up Late in Life

I recently asked members of the cyber world about dealing with regrets—specifically rectifying mistakes in the past. I sent out my query on all the social media I participate in. Here was the question:

What do you do if you wake up one day in your fifties or sixties to realize that your timing has been colossally bad? Can you recover? How? How do you correct your timing?

I welcome answers from people of all ages.

That I got very few responses is probably not that surprising. Perhaps it’s because I’m not that popular, or because the question is not one that people want to react to publicly. There could be many reasons for the resounding silence. But what was most interesting to me was that all but one of the handful of responders seemed to say they had no regrets, there was a problem with or in the question about asking about regrets, or that there is never a reason to have regrets because things can be done well in the present.

In the April 29, 2013, New Yorker piece called “The Writing Life: Draft No. 4,” veteran writer John McPhee talks about the process: “And unless you can identify what is not succeeding—unless you can see those dark clunky spots that are giving you such a low opinion of your prose as it develops—how are you going to be able to tone it up and make it work?”

I would say the same thing about life. If you are a human, you have made mistakes. One of the things that drives most of our species most crazy is when somebody refuses to acknowledge, let alone take responsibility for, mistakes. If we never feel sorry, how can we change? If we never feel remorse, why bother?

Regret and remorse are wonderful things. They can tear us apart, burn us down, and make way for a new improved us—a phoenix rising out of the ash.

I regret. I regret. Oh, how I regret. And I do not regret that I regret. Let the fire burn . . .

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