“It was a recognition of the two sides of myself, the one who would always cling sentimentally or wholesomely – however you happen to view it – to family, place, roots, security; the other which would as lief hop a midnight train…and which half-resented all the things that held it back. It was a split I was never going to close entirely. But who does? We opt for the one that means the most, or we live with both. Neither decision is quite satisfactory, but we muddle through with it. It’s never making the decision at all, or pretending that the need doesn’t exist, that destroys you.”
B.H. Deal - The Reason for Roses
I gave an affirmative, emphatic nod of my head when I read the above paragraph in my mid-twenties. But I’m now at a point in my life where I know I am never going to hop that midnight train. However, from this vantage point I can also look back and know I made the right decision when I chose family, roots and place. The urge to take a different, more adventuresome path – to go with that other Beth – no longer haunts me.
Do I have any regrets? Of course I do. But I don’t subscribe to the belief that we should strive to eliminate regret from our lives. Dwell on them, no. But to acknowledge regrets is to learn - to understand the who you have become and the why. Regrets = hard-earned knowledge.
My biggest regret is that I stayed in one place far too long on that path I chose - was blinded by a need/desire for comfort and security. I missed a train (an opportunity) that was calling my name years ago. And yet, that same regret produced my three precious children. So you see? Not all choices that lead to regret need be seen in a negative light.
The adventures I experience and the paths I travel now manifest themselves in the changes that have come about in my life. At times I may grow weary of dealing with each change and its aftermath but how I choose to deal with them yet again shapes my life and who I am. And I am a much happier person now. Another regret – another positive outcome.
Although I have never literally hopped a midnight train in my life, I am now – figuratively speaking – travelling on one. Destination unknown. But I am both the conductor and the engineer. I welcome suggestions as to pleasant stops along the way but telling me where I should go, how to live, what language to speak or how to feel will never be welcome or accepted on this journey. It is mine.
Perhaps I have now been given the opportunity to recognize that other side of myself? If so, I will still and always “cling sentimentally and wholesomely” to family, to those I love – I will never leave them behind.