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Miss Otis regrets

Just went for a heavenly bike ride on a heavenly Sunday morning – down along the Don Valley Trail. Such a wonder, this trail, running so far along beside the river in the middle of the city, through woodlands filled with birdsong, dells and glades. (Have to look up what the difference is between a dell and a glade …) My legs ache a bit now, but my soul is glad.

Gladder, anyway. A cold mist of melancholy has seeped in these last days, or perhaps weeks. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t wanted to write here as often as usual – because I’m not my usual burbly self. It must have something to do with re-entry – from “Wheee, I’m in Paris!” to “My taxes aren’t finished, the basement is chaos and the grass needs cutting.” But I think my 60th birthday this summer is looming, too. I spent that glorious bike ride dwelling on my regrets – for one reason, that I’d like to list them and then put them away forever. Regrets are a waste of time, and yet, there they are. So here they are.
I wish, most fervently, most importantly, that I’d been a better parent.
I wish I’d started writing for publication much earlier and with confidence and focus.
I wish I’d had more confidence in myself as a woman.
I wish I’d gone through my course of therapy much sooner, so had more years to live as a self-forgiving person.
I wish – here’s a classic – I’d kept taking piano lessons and played an instrument well now.
That’ll do for now. Because really, what’s the point? It’s like saying, I wish I’d been a different person. And that, I don’t. I really don’t. I just wish I’d been a better me. BUT THEN YOU WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN YOU, IDIOT, YOU JUST SAID THAT.
Okay, even so, how do I take this heavy list and throw it away? How not to feel that stab in the heart when I worry about my kids and blame myself? When I feel like a failure as a writer because I’ve produced so little? When I look at my failed marriage? Etc. etc.
This is not the happy blogger you have come to know. Sometimes I wallow in recrimination and self-pity, only I don’t usually talk about it. Well, here it is in all its grump and groan. If I weren’t post-menopausal, I’d think it’s PMS. But it’s just … the way life feels, today.
And now, that’s enough. It is the most heavenly day, as I might perhaps have mentioned. My garden is gleaming green, as I might also, at some point, have mentioned. It’s quiet except for birds and a distant voice or two. I am healthy, my children are healthy, my mother is well. I’m about to have lunch, including the last of the cheese I brought back from Paris, a pungent bit of Camembert. And then the delicious rhubarb crumble I made yesterday with my garden crop. I will eat, and I think, for once, I’ll have a glass of wine with lunch, and I will toast life. With all its foolish regrets, it’s way, way better than the alternative.
PS A dell is “a small valley, usually among trees” and a glade is “an open space in a forest.” Completely different things! Now we know.

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4 Responses to “Miss Otis regrets”

  1. Mary says:

    I can totally relate to that regret at not being a "better me." As I recently turned 50, I like to blame it on hormones in transition. It's maddening, isn't it? When I regret not being a better me it eventually leads me to feel shame for not accepting who I am which leads right back to regret for not being a better me! Sheesh!

  2. beth says:

    It's fascinating to watch my two children in this regard – my son is like me, hypersensitive, carving himself clubs with which to hit himself over the head; my daughter is blithe, splashing through life utterly without any visible guilt or regret. So I wonder if there's a genetic component – the guilt and regret gene.

    Let's forgive ourselves and move on, shall we, Mary?

  3. Mary says:

    I wouldn't be surprised if it's genetic. Sure seems like I was born with it and others in my life weren't. Which, indeed, is a good excuse to forgive and move on!

  4. beth says:

    Well, it also has to do with being a thoughtful person. If you just live your life and march ever onward, no problem – but if you're thinking, trying to figure things out, you're going to go deep and suffer sometimes. So all in all, sensitivity is a plus which sometimes doesn't feel that way. It'd be hard to be an artist without it, though!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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