Moonlighting: Regrets

September 28, 2012

I suspect that the change of seasons is a time of reflection for a lot of people. Where have I been, where am I going, what did I miss? The first line of inquiry is usually the here-and-now: What happened to summer and why didn’t I make it to the beach?!? That then rolls over to multiple summers, and the resolve that next year will be different.

The changing seasons can also inspire the need to look at a bigger life picture. For someone who is quickly approaching the age of dirt, I’m pleased to say that I have very few regrets. And some of what look like regrets would really just be “do over”s, if I’d had the experience then that I have now.

I think tops on the list was turning down an opportunity to live in Iran with a friend for about six weeks. It was before the fall of the Shah, when Americans were not regarded with the disdain that we are today. My husband and I were there visiting, and I could have stayed with my friend until she returned to college, and we would travel together.

I declined because neither Gary nor I were seasoned world travelers, and we decided it was best to stay together for that adventure and leave for home at the same time. Our return trip was a nightmare, and we were glad many times over that we had each other for support and comfort. Of course, no one knew that within 18 months, the Shah would be deposed, Americans would fall from grace, and the opportunity to experience the history and culture of Iran in that way would likely be lost forever. I doubt I will live long enough to see enough political and emotional healing to risk visiting there again.

Closer to home is the Number Two on my list: the morning after the Flood of 2008. I always travel with a camera in my car. That morning, I saw amazing, transfixing things along my regular route to work. New roadways were washed out and gushing fountains of runoff water continued the erosion as I watched. Lincoln Lake was within inches of the roadway at the bridge on Lakeshore Drive. The Lincoln River was up about 8 feet from its norm.

While I hesitated with the idea, I didn’t stop to take photos. Something in my head said to get to work on time, that everyone would be needed in the aftermath of the storm. It never occurred to me to phone my boss. Didn’t occur to me that I might never, ever, ever have a chance to take these sorts of photos again. And it certainly didn’t register that if I didn’t document what I was seeing, that it might be lost for everyone. At that time, the magnitude of the storm wasn’t known. Later we learned it was not only a “100 year storm”, it was a 500-year storm. I doubt I will live long enough for a do-over on that experience, either.

I live with less fear today, knowing that the world is a pretty forgiving place, and knowing that sometimes opportunities that cross our paths really are a once-in-a-lifetime thing. In the expanse of eternal time and space, we’re really here just for the blink of an eye. It isn’t about money or possessions. It’s about kindness, quality of life, and peace of heart. Best to choose wisely and share in all the joy and richness we can.


© 2012, J. Cools

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