Friday, April 30, 2010

No Regrets



I skipped a week on writing in my blog for a pause to reflect on my intent for creating this . I was pondering on the question to myself of "how honest do I want my little online web log to be?" I have started to realize that writing is a clarifying process. It brings issues to the surface, that I wasn't even aware I buried which leads me to the topic of "regret". Believe me, I have plenty of it. Is it useful to dwell in the realm of "regret"? No, not particularly.


The only usefulness of regret is that it points to an area of growth that I need to embrace. When I find myself hanging out in the purgatory of regret I notice it points to several things. First of all, I'm not living in the present moment. Choosing sanity means doing the yoga of attention which means taking a deep breath, looking around, and seeing what is possible to be done in the "here and now." One of the definitions of the word yoga is to yoke oneself to God (aka; pure consciousness). There are many forms of yoga. Hatha is the one we are more familiar with. Usually a series of physical poses we put ourselves in to restore us to equanimity, and a sense of well-being. In Jainism yoga they consider the total of all activities—mental, verbal and physical.


The best I can offer to this blog, is uniting my words with the present moment. It's not my intention to be a "poser". I won't pretend to have any advanced yogic skills, but I can practice telling the truth to the best of my ability. Life has persuaded me that nothing can come from denying the truth, about myself or anyone else for that matter. It is liberating for me to consider this. Even in criticizing someone, I cannot find separation, for the only way I can come to any insight about anyone else is that I have come to see these same qualities in myself. This doesn't give permission for me to hammer others, or myself with these perceptions.


Recently, and old acquaintance contacted me just to say hi. I didn't have particular fond personal memories of our "relationship". As a child they had tormented and scorned me, but I did have other memories of them. The person was a particularly talented vocalist. I remember attending school performances and being completely awestruck by their tremendous gift. It put me in a bit of a quandary. How could these two experiences of the same person coincide. I tended to think as a child it was because I was inherently un-lovable, or they were just being hateful, and not understand that this was just someone who I needed to learn from. My old school chum was a child like myself, just learning how to negotiate in a less than safe world. After all, it's not as if I had never been unkind. I think as children we experiment with all kinds of behaviors. Experiencing pain and regret are ways that show us actions that aren't working for us. Unfortunately, I have often continued this conduct in spite of these signals. I have a strong feeling that this is at the crux of addictive, and self-defeating ways of life. Many of us want life to bend to our whims and not "accept life on life's terms." My point is that I had a lot of regrets about my childhood. Taking teasing too much to heart, and then lashing out with my own cruelties. my relationship with my former school friend was not a comforting one, but one that helped me see that I can not depend on the understanding of others. Finding peace with myself is an inside job.


I have a favorite Jazz song I often listen to: "No Regrets" by Roy Ingraham and Harry Tobias. There have been many singers that have done this song. Billie Holliday being the most famous for it. The tone of the song is so upbeat and lyrical that I always feel my spirit fly when I listen to it. The lyrics go as follows:
No regrets!
Although our love affair has gone astray,
No regrets!
I know I'll always care though you're away;
Somehow our happy romance ended suddenly,
Still in my heart you'll be,
Forever mine!
No regrets!
Because somebody new looks good to you,
No regrets!
Sweetheart, no matter what you say or do,
I know our love will linger when the other love forgets,
So I say good-bye with no regrets!
No regrets!
Because somebody new looks good to you,
No regrets!
Sweetheart, no matter what you say or do,
I know our love will linger when the other love forgets,
So I say good-bye with no regrets!


Now while this is a song about romantic love, there is a sentiment in it that is just astounding. Love without jealousy, without holding on in the face of departure. The lack of taking that departure personally or as an act of un-love is just a beautiful response to the challenge of clear loss. This song has become very iconic to me. At 56 years old, romantic love doesn't hold the appeal it once had. I wasn't one of the ones who found a life partner. I used to think I was unlucky, but now, I'm at peace with what I have been given (and what I have created)". I am looking at an opportunity to take these autumnal years to prepare for the last days of winter, and make them a journey of learning more about authentic love. There are so many kinds of love, so many kinds of relationships that are equally deserving of my attention. Even though the body ages the heart is eternally young. Who knows I may find someone to share the journey with, but I'm no longer looking. I'm not without love, just without marriage. I could regret not learning to let go, be kinder, and more tolerant with those around me sooner than I have but that would be missing the point. If I assumed love in all moments I would have no sense of betrayal, and none of the torture of regret. I could just as easily sing this song to my old schoolmate to open my heart in the midst of experiencing the painful memory of a difficult childhood. Learning this lesson is an ongoing process.


Living without regret, without resentment is a choice we make everyday. This doesn't require me to live a life being a doormat or expecting that I am going to live up to some lofty ideal of perfection. I just need to be willing to take the time to connect with the bigger picture whether it be through meditation, or embracing an art form. I think there are many ways to connect with reality. For now, the practice of writing and art, and remembering to carry the beautiful simple song "No regrets" in my heart.

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