The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

26 January 2005

The roads not taken

Mistakes? We've made a few:

I've discovered that living life the best way you know how brings regrets and sadness and mourning the loss of things you were never quite sure you wanted, or don't even know now if you want them. It is the narrowing of possibilities that hurts, the knowledge that if you did decide you wanted a certain path, it is already irrevocably closed to you, slipping away behind you when you were looking for something else.

I have those regrets, and I've spent some time and tears mourning the things that never were and now never can be no matter how much I might wish for them. You hear about midlife crises, and when you're young they seem baffling, because when you're young you think by the time you're where they are, you'll know the answers and what kind of lame person doesn't? It's only as you age that you realize that change doesn't encompass the core of who you are, you're always you and never perfect. You begin to understand exactly what it meant when your grandmother, graying, still strong but so old in your eyes, told you that at 70 or 75 or 83 inside she felt the same as the 16 year old girl who married with such dreams and delight inside that she couldn't sleep.

The problem with change is not so much that it's inevitable, or even that it's superficial — what we are deep inside was fixed long ago — but that it's so blasted difficult to quantify: how much change can we handle at any given moment? In the past, I have tended to guess either too high or too low: I've done something drastic when minor modifications would have sufficed, or I've tweaked and twiddled when I should have walked (or run) away.

The saving grace in all these fumbling maneuvers is the fact that they exist at all. Doing something, even when it's wrong, or at least ill-advised, is generally to be preferred to doing nothing; a rut is a grave that extends to the horizon.

The important thing to remember, I think, for myself, and for Susanna as well, is that no one ever gets to try every single door, that our time in this world is too short to exercise every conceivable option. The best we can do is to keep our eyes — and, when appropriate, our hearts — open.

Or, as that Zen master Yogi Berra once said, "If you see a fork in the road, take it."

Posted at 7:12 PM to General Disinterest

TrackBack: 1:55 AM, 31 January 2005
» "A rut is a grave that extends to the horizon" from BatesLine
I have been haunted all week by this Dustbury entry and by the entry by Susanna Cornett over at Cut on the Bias to which Charles G. Hill links. Here's part of what Susanna wrote: Sometimes I think about what my life would be if I had made other choices......[read more]