going retro: recklessness and regret

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Teenager and giant puppy listening to Adele.

So, we’ve discovered our giant puppy loves classic light rock 70’s music. I mean, really loves.

Easy listening soothes the savage beast, Dave says. Her current favorite is The Best of Bread, but only Side A. Side B gets a little too rocky…

(By the way, 70’s teenagers CANNOT talk about how kids these days don’t use good grammar and it’s all because of pop culture. Baby I’m a want you — really? At least in the 80’s we recovered some good old-fashioned dignity.)

Fortunately, we do get some relief from Side A, because Ginny also loves Adele. Who, interestingly enough, reminds me of Stevie Nicks sometimes… so there you go. The dog with her highly sophisticated taste in music agrees.

Actually, I have to think of Adele as Stevie Nicks when I listen to her song When We Were Young. Because when you’re 67, it’s okay to sing about lost youth. But at 25? I’m pretty sure the only thing more audacious than a 25-year-old singing about how she’s getting old is the 13-year-old singing along.

Adele.

[cue Emma Thompson voice]

Dearest, you are young. And I *deep breath* am quite old enough to be your mum.

[end Emma’s voice, or not — choose your own adventure]

But thank you. And I do mean this sincerely. Because you put music and lyrics to all the feels I’ve had all of this 46th year of life.

We were mad at getting old it made us restless.

I’m so mad I’m getting old. It makes me reckless.

I feel this. I’m mad, too. Especially at my feet, which now require special exercises before I even get out of bed…

46, at least my 46, has been a wild transition. Half of our children are adults now. Adults!

…I accidentally got invited to my high school’s Facebook group planning their 30th reunion and I was so offended someone would think I was that old — until I realized it was the class just a year ahead of me. What??

(BTW, if you are older than me and reading this and saying out loud, of course, “Deb, you are so young!” Call me and let’s do lunch. You are my new favorite. And I love you.)

*

So, anyway, I’ve been doing some fairly reckless things in rebellion against the passage of time:

1. I quit my steady job to freelance.
2. I let, nay, encouraged my 18-year-old-senior-in-high-school-planning-to-leave-for-college-in-the-fall son get a puppy. (I know…)
3. I ate In-N-Out burger three times in one weekend. With nary a care for calories or cholesterol.

Oh, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m sure there are people who get through this part of life without a blip. But I’m not that kind of girl/woman/lady/whatever I am now. Oh no. In my life, there’s no such thing as a smooth transition.

[see? no transition here…]

I just heard Eugene Cho gently refer to this season as “Midlife Reflection” rather than the old standby of “crisis.”

In which case, I’ve totally #nailedit.

Because I found myself looking back a few times too many over the past year — to years and decades of my life and giving them labels:

An entire year consumed by this… Five years consumed by that… A decade spent on this.. 

It’s only safe to think like that for about ten minutes. And then you have to let it go.

If you look back too long, you end up turning on Adele first thing in the morning, spreading a photo album of your babies on your lap (or just staring at the one picture because only baby #1 actually has a completed Creative Memories album), and dropping chocolate cake crumbs all over your bathrobe… and you’re still sitting there at noon. For days. [Not that I would know. I’m just saying it could happen.]

Because sweet memories are one thing, but regrets are another.

I know you understand this, so I’ll give you a few major regrets from just one decade of my life:

  • I regret not buying the condo offered to us for a ridiculously — ridiculously — low price by a friend who wanted to get the heck out of Dodge after the Northridge earthquake.
  • I regret not changing the oil on time in the Suburban.
  • I regret not getting a dog when the kids were much younger. (They needed one. They really did.)

But, sometimes the stuff we regret is the very stuff that has shaped our lives for good. You live, you learn. Right? For example, I learned what it means for a vehicle to throw a rod…

And then there are other regrets. The regrets that shaped those years and decades and gave them labels. Like these:

  • I regret trying so hard to do everything right by my own astronomically high standard.
  • I regret working overtime (in all senses) to please other people.
  • I regret not reaching out for help when I didn’t know what to do.
  • I regret not stepping out and speaking up — creatively and in relationships.

These are the sorts of regrets you don’t dwell on or they will destroy joy like nothing else…

But reflection to a degree is a very good thing, right? No, you can’t change the past, but you may find a common denominator among your regrets. And maybe it’s something that will change your future.

My common denominator is easy to spot now that I have the advantage of a midlife reflection.

Fear.

The kind of fear that suffocates life, minimizes risk, hides in closets, holds back and says you’re not good enough.

If the most reckless my getting old madness gets is throwing off fear and taking risks, well, that’s a whole lot better than buying a fancy sports car with a rockin’ stereo on which to play soothing seventies tunes.

People often say they’re going to live without regrets, but how do they know? Maybe they’ll disconnect emotion from their life history and maybe they won’t. Every human has a regret. At least one time in their life, they know they chose wrong.

Lucky for us, Adele sings about her regrets.

Hmmm…maybe I’ll sing about mine. Or not. I don’t know…

I suppose living without fear could involve karaoke.

You never know.

* * * * *

2 thoughts on “going retro: recklessness and regret

  1. I so identified with your writing, except for looking at memory albums – even with one picture. I have memory boxes of undeveloped film…. A regret, that I didn’t get them developed 20 years ago. Life goes on and now I celebrate the digital age where my images magically appear in a second.

    Like

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