I have been a bit quiet on the writing front. I sit down to write, and then my mind takes me on a whirlwind that has nothing to do with writing. Or I stare at the blank canvas of Google Docs, and I can’t bid the words to emerge from where they are colliding with each other in that tiny space in my head. I give up and retreat to a corner to nurse my writing wounds.
But I have learned that this year has taught me what a lifetime didn’t. That we need to be patient. With ourselves. With others. With Time. With clients. With bills. With servers. With Internet service providers. With vegetable sellers. With children. With parents. With partners. With kids, dogs, birds, leaves, running shoes, ties, spots, sofas, carpets, cycles, roads. Patience with everything chaotic, messy, irritating, annoying, beautiful, fragile, fleeting, and noisy. Patience because we want this year to end. We want this pandemic to go away.
It won’t just because we want it to. The year will move from 2020 to 2021, and we will still be wearing masks.
But we want our life to return to normal RIGHT NOW. We want to hug our friends. We want to stop worrying about our loved ones. We want to date people on Tinder in real life. We want one-night stands again. We want to hang out and dance in a pub. We want to shop until we drop. We want to go to music concerts and watch movies on the big screen. We want to travel to all the places we had planned. Oh, we want, we want, we want.
And drive ourselves miserable over a situation we can’t control because we want it our way. Somewhere, the Buddha is smiling and saying, “I told you guys that nothing is permanent. Stop all this craving. Stop resisting.”
“But we are suffering!” we yell at him. He roars with laughter and says, “Exactly! You see it? You see now in a short year what took me all those bloody years under a tree with all those bloody mosquitoes. Welcome to life, my dears.”
I read ‘Hold Still’ by Nina LaCour last evening. It’s a luminescent meditation on grief and healing and nothing to do with the Buddha. The book deals with a young girl coping with the loss of her best friend by suicide. There was a line there that made me pause. It really did.
“I imagine what would happen if everyone turned their regrets into wishes, went around shouting them. Signal lights would change at intersections, and as the people on opposite sides of the street stepped off the curbs, they would call to one another – Finish college! Exercise at least three times a week! Never start smoking! Tell your mother you love her! Wear a condom! Make peace with your brother! Don’t sign anything before you’ve met with a lawyer! Take your dog to the park! Keep in touch with your friends!“
There. A lifetime of regrets compressed into one paragraph. Not all of these are my regrets, but I never got to make peace with my brother. There are other regrets in my life, though. I wish I had been more patient with people, gentler, kinder. I wish I had been that to myself. I wish I had written more. I wish I had more courage to…
You see what happens? When I think of my regrets, I can express it only as a wish. I wish I had done this. I wish I hadn’t done that. The keyword “Wish” beckoning to me there in technicolor bold in my mind’s eye.
What if we were to make our regrets into wishes into reality? Too often, we beat ourselves up over what we wish we hadn’t done or wished we had done. The tragedy is that we make our regrets immovable objects. What if our regrets are just wishes waiting to manifest?
What if we can turn the “I wish” into “I am?”
I have no preachy thoughts on how to do that. Just the awareness that we can work on regrets is enough for me now.
I leave you with a song from Sia ‘Courage to Change.’ I have been listening to this on repeat:
“You’re not alone, I promise
Standing together we can do anything
Sowing the seeds of love and hope, you don’t have to stay here, stuck in the weeds.”
How would you turn your regrets into wishes?