Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Convoluted But I Think There's a Point...

“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.

18 comments:

Beth said...

Beth...this was beautiful. I love your take on "regret"...I have to remember that. So many people, myself included, want to live with NO regrets. But then...that's not really living is it?

Many things going on with me right now and I look to you for guidance....you've handled yourself brilliantly through everything, and I admire you greatly.

Deidra said...

Talk of the midnight train always makes me think of Gladys Knight and the infamous Pips. So now I've got that tune in my head and a smile on my face. Thanks!

The older I get, the less I regret. I think the choices I've made along the way have made me who I am. They were not all good choices, not by far. But here I stand in spite of that. Because of that? And I agree with your description of this train you're riding now...it's your train, your way. Enjoy!

Cid said...

I actually have a post percolating in the same vein - about making a drastic change in one's life. And after my high school reunion I could be full of regrets - that I didn't go to law school, that I didn't travel the world, that I married my high school sweetheart at 23 but as I made my way home to my boys on Sunday I knew I wouldn't change a thing.

Glad you're up and writing again.

Barrie said...

You know what gets me, though? It's the number of decisions I made without ever really considering the consequences. Which is, for example, how I ended up in San Diego. Anyway, great post!

sherry ♥ lee said...

I love that you are now the engineer and the conductor!!! Brava!! Happy travels!! ♥

Reeny's Ramblin' said...

Took the words right outta my mouth. Unless we strive to learn things from our regrets as well as our guilt, they are useless ghosts that dwell in the past.

Regret and guilt come from the same place - the past. There is absolutely nothing that we can do to change that, however we can grow from those experiences.

Listen to the words of the song The Weight by the Band...it wasn't until recently that I figured out what they were talkin' about.

Oh and be sure to enjoy your ride!

oreneta said...

I agree with both of you Beths...that is a lovely take on regret....

It is neat that we met again...I can 'hear' you when you are writing so clearly...

Beth said...

Beth:
From what you reveal on your blog, I think you’re handling “things” very well – growth and progress (and smiles!) in so many areas. Keep it up, sweetie.

Deidra:
There you stand with grace and happiness both “in spite of” and “because of”…
And now you have me singing that song!

Cid:
Family, place, loved ones, the lives we lead...how can we ever wish to trade what we have now for something else?

Barrie:
Don’t think we can ever know all the consequences but I think you have a pretty great life there in San Diego. (eh?)

sherry lee:
I’m multi-tasking! ;)

Reeny:
So many “loads,” requests, choices & opportunities along the way – some good, some bad.
As for my ride? I do tend to go in circles at times. ;)

Oreneta:
And I can “see” you both smile and frown :( with your writing!

Guy said...

Nice reckoning.

Lovies to you, Beth.

msb said...

...and your family will always cling to you with love. I have always wanted to go on a train ride. I'll be there sitting right beside you!

Seraphine said...

this is my favorite post of yours, beth. it all sounds so familiar. i think of this probably every day- what i want to do, where i want to go- and the ties that bind me to the present.
but it is my present. i am here for the choices i made, and i have few regrets.
i've hopped on that midnight train a couple of times. [disclaimer: everybody's train has a unique-to-them destination] i came back richer/fuller for the experience.
and i can tell you, your experiences ultimately define who you are.
another thing. life is never static. you'll change, your circumstances will change. that sense of security will shift if you get too comfortable.
you'll have more chances to take that midnight train. and whether you decide to take it or not, there is no wrong decision as long as you stay true to yourself.
and there's no rule you have to take that train alone. in fact, taking someone along is half the fun.
and don't leave without a return ticket stashed somewhere on your person. just in case.
always have a backup plan, and don't burn any bridges if you can help it.

apriliniowa said...

The Deal quote floored me. I've spent most of my adult life torn between those two hooks. And always feeling burdened by love: too much and too soon. But then, on those few nights I've been alone in our house in the last ten years, unable to sleep because I miss my boys so much. Yet I know in the back of my heart...at my core...that creepy little dark space...I resent being loved and needed so much. I've written many short stories on this theme because it's one I constantly struggle with. I will, obviously, read this book.
In other words, my hat is off to you. Keep on keepin' on with that train. ;)

Seraphine said...

You have brains in your head,
you have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And you are the one who'll decide where to go.
Poem from Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

I feel like I need to scold you! Staying on your path "too long" brought other things to you (three well raised, stable, contributing human beings to planet earth for one), it also made you more aware right now of what you need and want to do (some of us are still floundering there). I read somewhere that the opportunities are not finite, unless we think they are, that is. I can understand the feeling that one big missed opportunity might bring regret but if you are pretty much happy with where you are right now then everything happened as it should be. I'm not so sure I would have jumped on a midnight train in my youth despite all the crazy and daring and plain careless things I did, but there are days when I think I would now.

Beth said...

Guy:
Thanks. Or am I rambling and rationalizing? I like to think I’m doing some important (for me) “reckoning.”

msb:
Would love your company. (But where the hell are we really headed??)

Seraphine:
Already told you what your words mean to me. These ones hold particular meaning – “...there is no wrong decision as long as you stay true to yourself.”
Thank you.

apriliniowa:
Acknowledging the “split” really does help – and recognizing the worth of what you have (what you ultimately chose) keeps you sane and happy. Looking back or occasionally wishing things were otherwise in no way diminishes the love for and the “place” you are now. (Writing about those other train rides you might have taken helps...)

Seraphine:
I love this! Had forgotten it. Think I’ll frame these words.

The Bodhi Chicklet:
Feel free to scold, “Mom.” ;)
I need a good scolding at times. But had I left that particular path, I would have had my boys travelling with me on that other train.
I hope opportunities are not finite – I’m counting on it. If you ever decide to hop that midnight train, I’ll point out the highlights of doing so, but I’ll never tell you what train to travel on!

Zhu said...

I have regretting not having done something and I try not to. It's never too late, anyway.

Michael said...

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 agree with this statement, I feel the same way too.

cipriano said...

A very significant blog-posting for me to read tonight.
Today [Oct.8th] marked my 11th Anniversary at my job.
A job I have loathed for all of the lovely 4,015 days [give or take a leap-year] I've been there!

Every day I try to believe in the greater-good I will one day understand.