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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NO REGRETS

backstage the hillbilly show

Earlier today I was watching a documentary of a surfer / mountain climber going by sailboat to Patagonia in the southern part of Chile to surf and climb a mountain. 180 degrees South was the title. Nothing in the title or the brief description of it tells anything about it. It was one man living in California who had an adventurous spirit, wanted to go to Patagonia to surf and climb this particular mountain. He is repeating an expedition of some Sixties surfers who drove a van the ten thousand mile trip to Patagonia. He contacted one of them who lived not far from where our story was going. The man who was 70 went along with him on his trek to the mountain. While they were talking during a rest stop, the man 70 was talking about his life of staying outside business and living the way he wanted to live, simply. During an inward moment, he said, "I have no regrets." I could see he meant it. I thought of someone I'd met years ago who was 93, told me he always did what he wanted to do. He meant it, too. I thought, what a charmed life. His was not a charmed life, though I saw he meant it beyond everything being agreeable along the way. Seemed like he was talking from his attitude toward life, like the man in the film was talking from his attitude toward life.
 
backstage the hillbilly show
 
I thought when he said no regrets, lucky for you, and immediately adjusted to some things you just have to let go of. I wondered about my own regrets in retrospect. Seems like I have a regret of some sort every day. That's not really regret. It's more like too much unnecessary mentation. Once I killed a raccoon and regret that. I regret every animal I've killed on the road. I imagine the man climbing the mountain had those kinds of regrets, but he meant the kind of regret like never getting a divorce when you always wanted one and living a life of pretend. Next, the question, what is not pretend? The world is a stage. Let's pretend money has value. Heard a good one today, a man recently retired always wanted to learn to play a guitar and never had the time or focus of attention, buys a hand-made guitar for $2,500 to learn with. The man with his guitar will do something about his regret now that he has the time and mind for it. Or he may keep it in an expensive case and regret he never learned to play it. 
 
backstage the hillbilly show
 
If something like that is to regret decades later in retrospect, I have probably hundreds or thousands of those kinds of regrets. I regret I did not see Led Zeppelin in concert. That's not a real regret either. Looking back, all the way back, I can see much I would regret, but, a great big BUT, anything done differently might have altered my course away from my life as I know it now. I like my life now. To regret something along the way from the beginning to here would mean dissatisfaction with the path that guided me to satisfaction. It would be lack of understanding. It would be to doubt experience as teacher. I have to embrace every experience of the past to receive where I am now within. A lot of people are smarter than me, better educated, have faster minds, and a lot are more advanced spiritually than me. So what. Human existence is not competition. My only concern is to be here now on my own path. Ultimately, missing Led Zeppelin is nothing.
 
backstage the hillbilly show
 
I've never had any big adventures, only very minor adventures, yet am not devoid of adventures. Years ago a friend who found a passion for climbing cliffs told me about the thrill and tried to convince me I needed this thrill. I didn't say it, because I knew he did not have the experience to get it, but I felt the same fear every time I faced an empty canvas. His adventure climbing rock straight up was the equal of mine painting an image. I understood his thrill, but am not drawn to adrenaline rushes stuck on Stone Mountain half way up, unable to move in any direction without falling. It's the same painting a canvas, just not so terminal. I've done an awful lot that was stupid, learning experiences. I feel like over recent years I have found my flow, found it such that when I get shaken from it, it's easy to find again. In my flow, events of everyday life flow smoothly. Not because on the outside it's flowing smoothly, but because on the inside I allow the unsmooth and let it be. Then it falls into my flow and settles down. I'm glad I lived long enough to find my flow, if that is indeed what it is. 
 
backstage the hillbilly show
 
 
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3 comments:

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  2. TJ, I probably relate more to this particular composition than anything of yours that I've had the pleasure to read. I want to make peace with some of the mistakes I've made but it feels, at times, like that's an impossibility. It has, however, sent my life in a different direction that I believe will lead me to that place where I don't struggle with regrets and can live with contentment on life's terms. Your essay helps me understand that those events and poor decisions may have been the best thing ever to happen to me. No amount of convincing would have made me see that a year or more ago. It makes a whole lot more sense now. I look forward to continuing in the general direction in which I'm moving today. Your enlightenment is much appreciated, my friend.

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  3. How does one even define the word "adventure," really? It must mean different things to different people, as it should. Fear. Regret. Dreams. And just because you've written many things and created many things, it doesn't mean each new project, word, sentence, piece of art, isn't a new adventure. This is a terrific reminder. And thanks for the word "unsmooth."

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