Saturday, September 08, 2007

No time like now

Alexander Graham Bell:

When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.

Katherine Mansfield:

Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can't build on it; it's only for wallowing in.

Percy Bysshe Shelley:

Fear not for the future, weep not for the past.

Sydney J. Harris:

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.

A friend recently told me he regrets missing out on being with the one person who made his life happy and interesting. He said he had made so many mistakes he wanted to take back but didn't know how, and if he had it to do all over again... I stopped him right there. "Why," I asked, "are you wasting so much time and energy moaning and groaning over what you can't change? If the opportunity is still available, stop regretting what you cannot change and change what you can right now."

Until there is a time machine available to everyone (and wouldn't that cause a ripple effect from which we'd never recover?) and we can erase the past, we must live with the knowledge that the past cannot be changed but the future is still a blank canvas waiting for whatever we want to put on it. The problem is that we get so mired in the past we can't see the moment right in front of us or the possibilities just past the end of our noses. Learn from the past, repeat what worked, and learn from what didn't work, but keep moving forward.

It's like that faint, flickering glimmer of hope in the farthest and darkest corner of Pandora's box that would have been lost had Pandora not looked inside and simply shut the lid to make sure nothing else evil or bad got out. Stop looking at what got away and look for what's still there.

My friend made a choice to put a relationship on hold while he made 1000% certain that he was sure of everything and he chose the perfect time. The biggest problem with that kind of thinking is that you cannot ever be 1000% certain of anything and there is no perfect time; there is only this time, this moment, and this choice. Time and tide -- and life -- wait for no wo/man. I know it all sounds like nothing more than clichéd bromides, but they are clichés because they are true.

I have made mistakes, quite a lot of them over the years, but each mistake brought me to this moment and I regret none of them because at the time they seemed like a good idea and either taught me something or simply gave me insight into myself or someone else. Those are mine to keep, like Fate's door prizes, and like some door prizes they aren't what I wanted, just what I got. I also know that my biggest enemy -- if you can really term it an enemy -- is me because I sometimes forget that as long as there is the next breath, the next moment, the next heartbeat there is still hope and I can change things. Oh, I fall into old habits and once I notice that I do my best to change what I'm doing, but for the most part I am a work in progress and I keep learning and changing and, hopefully, growing. It all sounds so Pollyanna but I prefer Pollyanna to regret and spending my life in the sloughs of despond, and it gives me a new lease on life and a new way of looking at things, and I love to look.

I don't know whether or not my friend will take my advice and stop regretting the past, but I do know that all he needs to do is look up and see that what he wants most in the deepest part of his heart is still available if he has the courage to step up to the plate and take his shot. It won't be easy because there are questions to be answered and reasons to be given, but what he wants is within his grasp if he wants it badly enough and doesn't keep waiting to be 1000% sure or for the perfect time; he's not going to get that kind of sign.

For me, it's like writing. I fret over starting but once I get started the words come and at the end I have something worth sending out and being published. The first step is always the hardest because I agonize over it so much, trying to order things in my mind and plan out what I'm going to write, but I'm stalling, spending too much time thinking about what I am going to do than just doing it. It's that way for many things that I think are going to hurt, but I usually find out I wasted a lot of energy for nothing. Pain is sometimes good because it means growth, but more often than not I find that the pain is inconsequential or nonexistent and the growth is more than I ever hoped was possible.

I hope my friend stops waiting and takes that first step and follows it with more steps because otherwise he will spend his life regretting what he could have had all along.

What do you regret?

Friday, September 07, 2007

In memory

I just finished spending hours writing and recording a piece that will be integrated into a video my brother made as a memorial to my father.

On September 2nd, my family planted a tree in Dad's honor on his birthday and my brother filmed it. He's putting together a CD of the video and asked if I would write something to use as narration, so this morning I pulled out the letters Dad wrote me about his life growing up before and after his mother died in order to use his words. When I sent what I put together my brother said it was too long and he'd have to cut it down. Then I took a nap because I've been burning the candle at both ends lately and needed a rest; it was probably emotional exhaustion as well as physical and mental exhaustion, but the nap did me good. When I woke up I knew what I needed to write and how to put it together. It took me several tries but I finally recorded a narration that sounded as good as it looked on paper. My brother just wrote back and said he cried listening to it. I didn't cry recording it but the tears are hovering on the edge of my mind like a promised storm and I know they will come sooner rather than later. At least I have the memories my father left; that is something to hang onto.

Memory is a tricky thing. We tend to color the happy moments brighter and the bad times we view from a safe distance as though through a lens covered with Vaseline and gauze: watery, faint and far less painful than when we lived them. It's human nature to look fondly on the past and see it as better than it was: brighter, golden, happier. Sometimes we're right and things were better and sometimes memory is unreliable. Even those memories we hold close, the dark and painful times that scored and scarred our minds and souls, are not quite as we remember them. The villains are more evil, the emotions more powerful, the intentions black and white and easy to understand when in fact they are more of a watery gray that occasionally shades into charcoal. Powerful emotions leave powerful memories and we work them like worry stones, deepening and softening the lines of reality so we can bear the past and the scars we carry.

We forget all the times we have failed someone, all the times we have let them down. Instead we remember our reasons or forget the incidents altogether in order to move on with our lives. Chance remarks we took as criticisms or deliberate knife thrusts to someone else's heart are lost in the ever changing kaleidoscope of time and distance and we are left with regret, stumbling over what if and if only as though they were water-filled potholes in the middle of the road at the darkest hour of the night when our headlights fail. Most of the time we move on and keep living, keep breathing, keep making mistakes and finding happiness and despair in every moment. That's life.

I am usually reluctant to move on but when I do I leave everything behind, glancing back over my shoulder less and less as life pulls me forward. In the long dark nights when I'm alone in my bed or when I'm writing some piece of my life that will be published or used, I relive those poignant moments and thank the god/dess that I have been privileged to know even a few moments of happiness as I lived in interesting times. It isn't always easy and there will always be things -- and people -- I regret leaving behind or walking away from, but no matter how long they stay away or how soon it seems they are forgotten, they come with me as I move through life and I sometimes look back at them and wish they could share the changing moments and experiences here and now. I live with the hope they will push through the mazes and thorny hedges that separate us and join me down the road, the past a hazy, watery dream colored with fond memories, the pain and disappointments and regrets forgotten. But there are some who won't join me; my father is one of them.

They planted a tree on Dad's birthday in honor of his memory and it will grow and flourish above the bench where my family will take turns sitting and remembering him. I will see the tree in the video and my family will send pictures as it grows. I don't really need them to remember my father. I have his letters and his words and a treasure trove of memories. He no longer walks this earth, but he will always walk the halls of memory and alongside me in spirit as I keep living and working, writing and remembering not what I've lost but what he planted inside of me that will continue to flourish and grow.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'm baaack

I know. I've been gone long enough to be forgotten. It happens when you find yourself in the midst of a real life, and that is where I've been with a certain country gentleman who has been taking up the lion's share of my time making me laugh, making me cry, and sharing so many good times I haven't had time to do more than the top of my regular list of To Dos.

We went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, hereinafter referred to as HPOP. I have heard good and bad things about the movie but held judgment until I'd actually seen it. Despite putting in my contact and arriving at the movieplex without it, I still managed to see well enough sitting down front to enjoy the movie, despite my date snoozing through a small part of it. Nothing against the movie; he's just the kind of person who usually snoozes through a part of every movie since he's forced to sit still for more than five minutes. (more on that later) I was disappointed not to see more of Kreacher since he is an integral part of the story and continues to be in later books, but overall the movie was very good. It's hard to boil down an 870-page book into a two-hour movie, but I do feel the director and writers got the basics of the book very right. The characters, as always, were well played by a formidable cast, among them, Imelda Staunton and Helena Bonham Carter as Dolores Umbridge, the voice of the ministry for all things medieval and "all's right with the world", and Bellatrix Lestrange, the deranged Death Eater who has been locked up in Azkaban these past fourteen years. Watching such amazing talent living those parts makes the movie a must-see.

Yes, there are lots of things missing, among them the fascinating Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, and Sirius Black, but for someone who hasn't read the book since it was originally released or knows the story only through the movies the loss is small. I would have loved a longer movie, even with the country gentleman's snoozing through it (he's quiet about it), but I was definitely satisfied with what I saw and want it for my collection. It's a A- movie that could only have been better. I'm looking forward to more of the same.

My date took me to dinner afterward and then back home and I had a lovely time. Unfortunately, I had to cancel our plans yesterday in favor of work, but we rescheduled and that gives me the certainty we'll be seeing much more of each other, which is a good thing.

Another definite hit on the radar is Californication with David Duchovny that Peter Pan of the airwaves who just keeps getting more and more gorgeous. This time he is a blocked writer who begins to blog for his arch nemesis, the man who is living with his ex-pseudowife and plans to marry her. Hank's one saving grace, outside of his love of all women, literally and figuratively, is that he doesn't lie -- ever. He is, as his ex so aptly puts it, a walking id. Whatever's on his mind is what's passing through his lips, not a bad thing at all, but it does land Hank in some trouble here and there and mostly everywhere.

The part is a huge departure from Duchovny's X-Files persona, Fox Mulder, but much closer to the real Duchovny: womanizer (before Tea Leone) and wild man about town. The show is also a big hit as far as I can see as long as they maintain the current values and writing and another one of those guilty pleasures that will soon make its way onto DVD in the very near future as more episodes become available and are downloaded to my hard drive, which brings me to another reason I have been so scarce of late: burning my own DVDs.

I have been burning all the episodes of shows I like and have downloaded onto DVD for myself and Beanie. For Beanie, I've been burning the third season of LOST, and creating art work for the cases and the DVDs so they look good enough to eat -- or at least marvel at before being shoved into the player to watch. They look lovely and professional on the shelf and I've been told the contents are high quality, too. Once I get all the shows on DVD I will have more time and will only have to do maintenance burns every few weeks, but I have a very big backlog and that takes time when anywhere from 3-7 hours is needed to burn a quality DVD properly and that means not being on the laptop because nothing else should be running in the background to maintain maximum quality. More RAM would help and I have my eye on 2GB for the laptop and maybe getting a switch so I can run the desktop along with the work computer with the flick of a switch. So much to do and so little time to do it all, especially with the country gentleman taking me places and ensuring that I stay in the mainstream of life.

What can I say but oh, yeah?

That is all. Disperse.