Tag Archives: life lessons

I want a “do over”…


Just back from watching The Great Gatsby. It astonishes me how different all these books are from what I thought they were when I was forced to read them in high school. The whole feeling of Gatsby was so different than what I remembered (truth is I just lived for Robert Redford (still do) and dreamed of being his Daisy). I never understood the significance of the damn green light at the end of the pier.
I didn’t have the life context to even begin to understand the story. The endless striving for a dream only to find that the dream had changed while you strove, and hey, it wasn’t worth the striving anyway…you need life context for that. You need to have lost a few dreams enroute in order to understand the terrible terrible innocence of Gatsby, the horribleness of the people who used him.
If only we had the chance to redo our lives with the information we know now. Think of how much easier it would be if you knew the bumps ahead?
I was at the mall today, marvelling at the amazingly intricate strollers people were carrying their kids around in, and wincing at tired parents yelling at tired kids.
If I had it to do over, I’d be more patient. I’d enjoy my kids more. I’d force their dad to enjoy them more, too. What’s work, anyway? I’d have fought for our marriage, too, and forced him to be present in it. Even if I had to sit on him. I’d have sat on him more often, in a different way…
If I had it to do over, I’d have fought more to stay in the same place, to form lasting friendships with people. My friendships now are what sustain me. I don’t think I was always as good a friend as I could have been, and I’ve been lonely a great deal of my life. If I had it to do over, I’d work harder at being a friend, less hard at being a career success. I’d spend more time with my cousins. They’re like family bright – not as competitive as siblings, easier to just love.
I’d exercise more, if I had another chance. I’d spend lots more time enjoying the freedom of moving my body, of walking and running and flinging my muscles around while I could, before MS made every such exertion a guessing game, subject to sudden limitations. I’d tell my ballet instructor at Harriet Hoctor’s school to take her flat shoes and stuff ’em and demand to be on point even if I was shorter than everyone else.
I’d spend more time on creative pursuits: writing, music, art. They are truly the only things of value in this cynical depressing world. Well, those and chocolate and ice cream and single malt. And full-on laughter.
I’d travel more. I’d stop spending money on stuff and spend it on seeing other places while I still could. I’d go volunteer in Africa or something, where my skills could be some use and where the kids (I’d take them with me) could see that I had value to others. They already know how privileged they are and do good things, but I have this irrational urge to make them proud of me.
Probably cos I’m so proud of them.
Yep, a do-over would be great. I might even be able to protect my kids from things that hurt them as they grew up – I’d know to be aware that some people were not to be trusted, that school was nastier than it was when I grew up, that drugs were so present.
Probably not. It’s hard to be everywhere, and I always valued my kids’ right to privacy. I still do. I just wish I could try it all over again.
Maybe do it just the teensiest bit better.
Or, at the very least, appreciate it more.

Guidance, divine or otherwise….


Where is a good self-help book when you need one? Too many of them seem more like the books on the right side of this bookshelf…

I’m searching for a ring for my finger than says “think think, think!” just like Winnie the Pooh would say.  I want it large enough that I can read it so that, at the moment of decision-making (something I find a wee bit impaired with my MS of late), it would remind me to take a moment, chew things through, maybe reconsider.

It’s not that I’m making bad decisions, exactly. It’s just that I distrust my judgment.

Part of it is being an orphan.  My parents died so long ago I barely remember what they would say to any of my brilliant schemes. They were already ill with cancer when they were my age.  This would, no doubt, change their perception of what was important, much like MS has changed mine. I miss their advice, though.  Often it would make me mad or frustrated or guilty or sad, but at least I had something to test my ideas against.

Right now I fall back on the old Tarot card reading stuff – not that I believe in it, but if the cards say “don’t do this” and I argue I need to deal again, I at least know what I want to do.

I’m on my own a lot, too, with naught but a parrotlet for company.  She’s cute but prefers to dance along when I sing along with sad songs and not offer solutions to my problems.  So I rely a lot on books – “helpful books” – to gain experience and thoughts about life, the universe, and everything (okay, perhaps relying on Douglas Adams wasn’t such a good idea). Ideas that seem distinctly brilliant and doable in my solitude show their cracks and duct tape patches in the searchlights of friends and family.

And, while I struggle with my own issues, there are so many people around me also struggling, and I have to rely on my imperfect knowledge to try to provide solace. Advice is hard. I feel like we are lined up like those Betta fish, each in their own little cup. No one has the same fishbowl as anyone else – the best we can do is peer through our own glass and try to spot them through theirs.  Sometimes we can see the cat’s paw approaching, but most of the time it’s just murky. On both sides. Maybe if I just waggle a fin in support?

I’m heading into a big decision time. Well, at least one.  I find myself feeling that layer of excitement that you feel creeping over you as you ratchet up the slope on a roller coaster for the first time.  Not sure how the ride will be, excited to think about it.

My friends are split with their advice. My mind is also split. So I look at the ring I’m wearing – one with purple amethysts, the stone of dreams, and think, think, think. And hope for guidance, divine or otherwise. And also hope that those I’ve stumblingly tried to help haven’t been too damaged by my heavy-footedness, that perhaps some of what I know came through the murk.