Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Do-over? Not me. You might want to take notes.

Do-over.

If you know anything about my life history, you will know the thought of "do-overs" has occurred to me. One cannot live a life that includes addiction, a divorce, and the bearing of children before finishing college without some self-reproach.

I really don't live much in regret, though. I very much fear that any explanation of this will sound trite and involve lemons and lemonade, or worse, something suspiciously like truck stop quality Buddhism.  However, the honest to God truth is that after I am done briefly fuming about whatever misfortune I feel Fate has handed me, and what I have done to make the situation worse, I see the past as sort of interestingly irrelevant. It continues to be sort of amusing as the subject of stories, but it is just the Past, as immovable and solid as a stone. Perhaps this is the survival strategy of the prodigious fuck-up. It's aallll water under the bridge now, folks. I'm moving on.

Here are two examples of situations that might summon up a desire for a Mulligan in the average human being, but which I have handled using my champion positive self-talk. You may want to take notes.

Photo Credit: Flickr

While living in a tiny cottage in the redwood forest of California, I failed to have my chimney cleaned for several years. As a result, while I was at a social gathering nearby and my children, then, two and and five, were with a twelve year-old babysitter, my fireplace erupted in flames. I heard the town's fire siren howl and casually told gathered guests from out of town that this happened all the time in our little town. Only moments later, I received a call from one of the local firefighters of my very, very small town letting me know that he was at my house.

My reaction: (after checking on my kids and installing them somewhere safe) Well, there is really nothing for me to do now. Everything is all right. I can't have the fireplace cleaned until tomorrow, and no one seems upset. Hell, I am going back to my evening event. 


I was driving to some friends' house out by the coast, on roads that were completely obscured by a fog as thick and white as sheared wool. My two sons, three and six, were in the car. Although I had been to these friends' home before, never had I gone at night and never when visibility was so poor. I missed the turn to their long, winding driveway and instead turned into another. Where I drove straight into a ditch dug in the middle of a yard. With two wheels off the ground, I could not get my Volvo to reverse and, stuck in the dark and fog, in the middle of Bumfuck Nowhere, with two young children in tow, I had to knock on the door of a strange house for help. The man within, although surly looking, was not, in fact, a serial killer, and he helped me get my car out of the ditch and then pointed me on my way.

My reaction:  (upon arriving at my friends') Well, I'm awfully glad he was home. Are there any baked potatoes left?


The real reason I have so little room for regret is because of my advanced skills at worrying about the future. I am really a forward thinking person. If you enjoyed this, I will soon write you a helpful list of concerns you might consider having based on extraneous events that happen in your life.

You're welcome.



















21 comments:

  1. I, too, tend to reserve all my energy for worrying about the future. Occasionally I will try to take a look at the past and remind myself that everything back there was once the future I worried about--and very little of it turned out to be as bad as I'd feared--and every bit of it was survivable. As of yet, though, I've been unable to use that wisdom to curtail my current worrying with any regularity. I worry about that, too. :)

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    1. If I gave up worrying about and planning the future, I think I would be bored shit-less. Perhaps that is why I do it. It all works out though. I seem to be able to adapt fine to changes in my plans...as long as I HAVE a plan.

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  2. Okay first thing, I really liked this post. A lot. And secondly, why on earth do people worry? Worrying never changed anything and never got me prepared for anything that actually happened. It's a major stress that can be avoided by simply calmly saying to yourself (1000 times if need be), "Here is what could happen." Write those things down. "If this does happen, here is what I will do." Write those things down. Now one more thing. "Dear Lord, I am handing this to you. I trust and believe you will lead me in the right direction if my head isn't too busy sorting things out to listen. I am done with this now and waiting for your guidance. Amen"
    Now move on. LET IT GO...LET GOD.

    The end. ♥

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    1. Of course, Jo, although I am a deeply spiritual person, I believe you and I may have an entirely different understanding of the role of a divine hand in the Universe. That said, the practice you just described certainly got me through the first years of my sobriety and I would never knock it. My practice now has more to do with greeting calamity with a sort of peace that recognized my relative significance in the scheme of things, which is not large. I do allow myself small cathartic tantrums first, though. If only so I may write about them. :)

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  3. Replies
    1. ...Or not. Either way, let there be laughter. :)

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  4. Great stories. And I'm sure you'll tell them over and over, and the more time that passes, the more you will laugh - at least that's what i have found when reminiscing about those OMG moments.

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    1. It is really surprising that more didn't leap to mind when I was trying to write them, given the number of really prodigiously bizarre fuck-ups I've made in my life. They do make lovely stories.

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  5. i approach situations like you do.... acknowledge them, then move on... what can you do.... seriously.

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    1. Yes, "I ran over your cat. I'm sorry. That's just what happened. Let's move on, OK?" Really, who needs the stress? ;)

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  6. I'm glad to admit to being in the forward thinking club also. 'Make a plan' is my motto.

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  7. Mine is more "Make a list." Make a list and then gather all my loved ones together to show them the list and assign tasks. Nothing in the world that can't be conquered by a good list...

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    1. Yes, no one ever said "Seize yesterday!" :)

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  9. I used to worry about the past, present and future but as I've gotten older I have realized the futility of it and mellowed out a lot. I don't worry so much now I just try to deal with what comes and move on.

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    1. Yes, I understand this is one of the benefits of age. I can hardly wait for the perspective to set in.

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  10. Aside from making me laugh, your post did make me think about how much of a forward planner (aka forward fretter) I am! I love your writing style. :o)

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    1. It's always nice when someone gets that it's meant to be funny. :) I very much appreciate the compliment.

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  11. I think I may have stepped into the realm of truck stop quality Buddhism in my post this week, but the pie is amazing, so I'll probably go back again and again. ;O)

    I don't do the regret thing, either. Life chugs along and brings what it brings. I deal with it in the best way I know how, and it keeps on chugging on.

    I tend to have a simple view of most everything, for better or worse, but it works for me. I LOVE the way you approach, well, most everything.

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    1. Truck-stop quality Buddhism has some great moments. It's the only exposure to Buddhism I have, and periodically I use little trite bits of it to keep from going crazy. That and other little threads of things that get hung on buttons on my head. I loved your post, though, and that description is not what sprung to mind. :) I sometimes wish I was a simpler person. It is an enviable trait. Especially in you.

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  12. I have worried a lot in the past. In later years I have mentally forced myself not to worry and let G0d deal with it. It really takes the burden off and I feel better. I know now that it is a waste of time and energy to worry about something I can't change or do nothing about so I try not to. Great post!!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com/

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