ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Je ne regrette rien...Regrets? Do you have a few? On living and dying...Are you living your life Your Way?


Je ne regrette rien

Hi all! This is a life or life post. Or as a wag said once - 'Is there a life before death?'

I was reading an article by Nikki Gemmell, Aussie author who just returned from London to bring her kids up in Oz, and it really spoke to me. She wrote of a palliative care nurse who stated that there were five main regrets people voiced as they lay dying. (Bronnie Ware has since published these!) The following is the deepest regrets people have...and my spin on them...

No 1 Regret

I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself - not the life others expected of me. 

Did you say ouch to that? I do a bit. Women have a certain role thrust on them - they're often everyone's carer and nurturer, especially the Baby Boomer generation - 'a woman's lot is to give and give and go on giving'...from the '60's song, Born a Woman, by Sandy Posey. At some time we might wake up to ourselves and wonder who we are, what do we want? So how do we tackle this regret?
  • Don't be bound by fear of failure - the only true failure is in not doing anything at all. 
  • See setbacks as a need for more courage to keep going. 
  • Try to say 'I will' not 'I should'. Will you get that ms to the publisher/agent/Amazon/Smashwords this year? You will? Great! So will I!
  • Appreciate change. Our life is made rich by risking.
  • Stop worrying about what others think of you. 'Arm me, audacity', as Shakespeare, that pretty successful scribe, said. 
No 2 Regret

I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

So much of our lives is spent on the treadmill of just scraping by. Our ambitions are often reliant on the great god Mammon. Sure, we can't live without money, but some of us take the money-making gig a bit too far!

A life driven by love is preferable to one lead by greed for an obscene accumulation of coin. The best pleasures often lie in the simplest moments - a walk by the ocean, sharing a glass of wine while watching the sunset, a barbie with family and friends - none of these need a huge financial outlay (unless you like to sip your wine and watch your sunset in Capri in Italy, lol, and you live at the other end of the earth.)


Live life your way. As Emily Dickenson said: 'Friday I tasted life. It was a vast morsel. A Circus passed my house. Still I feel the red in my mouth...The lawn is full of south and the odours tangle, and I hear today for the first time the river in the tree.'

No 3 Regret

I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings

Do you have trouble saying 'no'? Hard not to. We love people and want to help, but Sartre said an essential freedom is the ability to say no. Is it only strong people like Sartre who have the courage to say no? If you're a pleaser, the yes person (hmm, I know someone like this) it can be depleting.

Do you say yes then fall into festering resentment, corrosive bitterness?
DON'T SAY YES WHEN YOU MEAN NO!

No 4 Regret


I wish I'd stayed in touch with friends.


Life moves on, we move on, we leave friends behind (yes, blogger friends too). Years later you can think - heck, where are my friends? You've let them drift away in the rush of life. Rectify this immediately. 


'No man is an island...I am involved in mankind...' from 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' by John Donne.


No 5 Regret

I wish I'd let myself be happier.

Simple?

Have you lost your sense of fun in the seriousness of daily life? Or are you simply a pessimist?
Have you let worries and responsibilities define you? We all have those; it's what we do with them that makes the difference.

Keep your heart light even in the face of the trials of daily life. It's a great armory for living. Don't wait till you're dying to learn that.



Here are the lyrics from the old warbler himself, Frank Sinatra, who said he didn't have many regrets. Lucky guy! You might have heard it a thousand times, but let it speak to you today...

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I've loved, I've laughed and cried.
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
"No, oh no not me,
I did it my way".

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

So our lives are like a short story - with a beginning, a middle and an end, but with variable word counts (think days.) On average we have 25,550 days to live. Live each day to the full!


No matter your calling in life, live life to the full!
PS In case you can't read my watermark, all pictures are taken by moi for L'AussieImages. No more wrestling with what's copyright with google images for me. I have thousands of travel and local pics, so hope you enjoy my originals with my posts from now on...


To finish on a writerly note: *If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. ~Isaac Asimov* 



50 comments:

  1. Some pretty deep regrets there! I'm not much of a reflector, my memory is too short-lived, I cheerfully block anything that might be regretted. And besides, the more embarrassing your past actions, the better they are to write about :)!

    Although I might regret this calamari in front of me tomorrow - looks a bit dicey - oh well, down the hatch!

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    1. Hi Charmaine. Hope the calamari had no after effects, lol. Ah, I love to reflect, maybe too much. D.

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  2. What strikes a chord with me is the one about being happier. I'm constantly fretting about one thing or another instead of just enjoying!

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    1. Ah Karen. Couldn't we all be happier. D.

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  3. Death, whether tragic or inevitable, is something we all learn to live with in our own ways.

    Life we are given, and if we don't live it to the best of our ability re life's pleasure and only seek gain (monetary/other)we don't deserve it. ;)

    Mistakes are life's lessons, learn by them and repent in earnest and move on with intention of no repeat performances.

    my rule of thumb:
    Be honest and true and don't judge others unless called upon for jury service = Karma

    Speak your mind don't expect everyone to agree with you = honest platform level playing field.

    Don't tell a secret to anyone: once told it's no longer a secret! = it will come out in the wash: sometime.

    Don't stick around if a party degenerates into closed cliques = it's heading for stormy waters and a few lonesome people clinging to each other the end result.

    best
    F

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  4. I think my biggest regret would end up being the last one. I'm a bit of a stress bunny and I really need to learn to sit back and enjoy life more... and stop worrying!
    I love your photos.

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    1. It's hard to fight that stress bunny feeling. Thanks for liking my photos. D.

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  5. Who can sing with Edith Piaf: "Je ne regrette rien"? In the meantime, you try to find excuses for what you regret... not always easy!

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  6. Wow! Powerful post, Denise. It's going to take time to take all that in. My biggest regret is to doubt myself, stopping before I start.

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    1. Ah Zan, self doubt, that bane of writers. D.

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  7. It is powerful! I once wrote a poem about regrets: http://clarissadraper.blogspot.com/2010/09/three-hours-and-award.html

    For me, the last few years I've thought a lot about regrets and that I don't want it. So, I've been working hard at making my writing life and my life with my son more meaningful.

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    1. Clarissa, it's wonderful that someone comparatively young has thought these things through. I will go and read your poem soon. D.

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  8. Those are profound! Especially the last one. I bet that's something most people never even think about.

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    1. I think you're right Alex. But these are good things to think about when we still have time to change. D.

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  9. As Alex says, those are profound regrets. Yet strong life lessons to go with them. Someone else's mistakes at work and supervisory covering up makes it look like my job will be over. Which means my blog and my novels will be over as well. Life is so odd. I will try to live what remains with honor and few regrets. Roland

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    1. Roland you are the king of honour. I will be in contact. D.

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  10. I said "ouch" a few times. Most emphatically to #4 and #5. I reckon far too many of us let worries and responsibilities define us, to our detriment.

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    1. That's right Botanist. It's so easy to get bogged down in these and forget to enjoy every moment. D.

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  11. I think I'm in a pretty good place in my life. And ohhh I love this quote: 'Arm me, audacity'.

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    1. Good ole Shakespeare. He's got words to live by. D.

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  12. These are my regrets except #2. Funny I wish I had earned more and I am only half way through life.
    Being a pessimist, its hard to be always happy but I am getting into the groove, more content anyway.
    Powerful post just when I needed a dose of confidence.

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    1. Rek, I'm glad this was timely for you. I think most of us share the same regrets. D.

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  13. Oh I can so relate to this, Denise. Great post.
    Yes I have regrets and I'm trying to resolve some of these at the moments. Fear of Failure is also a huge one for me, but that's another sory entirely. Having read 'Into the Darkest Corner', I feel much more empowered.

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    1. It's great Madeleine that you have such self awareness. Our lives are a work in progress aren't they? D.

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  14. I need to learn to stop saying no to things because I'm too scared to fail.

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    1. Yes Sarah, I know what you mean. If you don't try you'll never know. D.

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  15. This is an interesting post. I don’t have any of these 5 regrets, but I have one which is not in there = when my father offered my new husband and I to buy us an apartment in Paris if we would move there, we decided to stay in San Francisco – but that was in the late 1960s when things were happening there. But I still think about it – how our lives would have been so different. But it’s not a big regret, just an interrogation mark maybe.

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    1. Well, it doesn't hurt to reflect on the difference such huge 'crossroads' choices would have made. I hope you don't regret it too much. I wish someone had offered me that opportunity! D.

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  16. A very meaningful post...My regret is not writing earlier as I should have. And working too hard. Life is very short, and friends, we treasure them as we grow older ~

    Have a good day ~

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    1. Yes, Heaven, I share that one with you. I spent many years not writing, just learning about the craft.D.

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  17. Great post Denise. Yes, we all have regrets, even now, so what happens when we are dying? Die with regrets?

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    1. Dying with no regrets is a better idea Nas! D.

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  18. Fantastic post Denise! A great deal of what you've written rings true for me. I now need to formulate a plan for getting my life back on track. All that's probably needed are some tweaks here and there, but they might just make the difference.

    We all have to remember that "we are living the life not just the rehearsal" .....

    I like the idea of only ever using your own photographs too.

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    1. Thanks GaynorB. I'm glad you're embracing your life and taking control.

      Denise

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  19. Great post. It really made me think. I will probably have to read it again tomorrow after I get some rest and coffee. I want to remember it, longer than just a few hours.

    Pamela Jo

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    1. Hi PJ. Glad for your visit. Yes, lots to ponder here for some of us.

      Denise

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  20. Fantastic post! Loved the Frank Sinatra.

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  21. An absolutely wonderful post! I'm almost teary this Monday morning!

    Jane

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    1. My posts will do that to you lol. I hope you don't have too many regrets though! D.

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  22. This is an awesome post, dear sis! I've been away from my Blogger friends for almost a week, or longer it seems, trying to get a new email set up after that awful hacking experience. Sometimes we have to stop and fix things that need fixing.

    Frank Sinatra singing his song: it's one of my favorites. I think I too can say I have very few regrets. I'm satisfied with all the trials I've experienced. I've learned so much from them especially about myself. I do regret a few things I've said and done in my life, but they're in the past. I've put them behind me, and now try to be kinder, to relax more and take time to look around me at the beautiful roses, and especially to be more patient with my daughter. Yes, her care was thrust on me but I do it willingly. And even though it prevents me from traveling around the world, even to Spain (ha, ha), in the process of caring for her and loving her I have learned to love myself. And I've made so many friends along the way, both "real" and "virtual." Yes, as you said, some stay in your life, some drift away, but I hope to see them again in some wonderful eternity. Friends and family are what this life is all about, IMHO.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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    1. Hello Ann. Thanks for taking time from your hacking fix ups to visit. It's great to accept our experiences as opportunities rather than threats. Yes, life is all about family and friends. Friends like you are so important to me.

      Denise

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  23. Love your pics!!!

    I think we all feel regret about some of these things. I definitely do - especially the first one you listed. :)

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    1. Thanks Jemi. Glad you like my pics. Ah, that first one is No 1 for a reason isn't it?

      Denise

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  24. Last week, my son asked me, "Mom, what would be harder for you to live with: Sticking to your guns and not compromising, or regretting that you didn't?" Really made me think. I chose not regretting. So I took an offer, even though it involved compromise, and I am totally happy! Regret sucks!!

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  25. I'm guilty of doing all of this to myself. Thanks for a reminder that it's not worth the regret. I'll try harder.

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