DO OVER

What Would You Change?  by Rich Paschall

If you could do your life over, what would you change?  Would you choose a different career?  Would you choose a different house or apartment?  Would you consider living in another town?  Another part of the country? A foreign country?

Would you travel more?  Would you see other towns, other regions, other countries?  Do you have adventures that remain unfulfilled?  Do you wish to do more exciting things?

Here’s a big one for you to consider.  Would you change your mate?  Would you have more or fewer children?  Would you stay single or get married, depending on what you current circumstance is?

Many people like to say that they would not change a thing.  They would do everything the same way.  Some say this defiantly so, as if defending the life that they have led.  It may be just a front, however, for some family or friends.  Would we really do things the same way?

No matter what we insist to others, we all have made mistakes that we regret.  Would we not change these mistakes, if only we had the chance?  Would we not make better choices if we had the chance to choose again?

Do you recall the statement you said you wish you could take back because it was insensitive?  Do you recall the gossip that you took part in, only to realize later that it was just a way to put down a coworker, neighbor, or family member that you just did not like at the time?  Wouldn’t the passage of time make us wise enough to refrain from such things?  If we took part in these things with the knowledge of our lifetimes in front of us, would we not take a different course?

Perhaps you have seen the article, frequently reposted on social media (I have seen it a number of times, anyway), that talks about The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. These were collected by a nurse and published in a book.  It is summarized on Collective Evolution website. The list, of course, indicates that if these people could live their lives again, they would not take the same paths.  When they looked back from death’s door, there was plenty to change.

Top on the list was having the courage to live your own life, rather than that which was expected.  As we grow up, there are expectation of parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers and community about what we should do in life.  Our roles are frequently defined by others and we, as loyal children and friends, take the path expected of us.  Would we now decide on “The Road Not Taken?”

Every male patient regretted that they had not worked so hard.  They missed family events or other adventure while they worked extra hours.  From the perspective of the end of life, the choice was clearly a wrong one.  Yes, many need to work harder to support their family, but did we choose work, when another choice would have been better on a particular day?

Many wished they had the courage to express their true feelings, or that they had stayed in touch with old friends, or that they allowed themselves to be happier.  Perhaps they regretted all of these things.  So I ask the question again, what would you change if only you could?

If time and health are on your side, then you can still do many of the things you missed earlier.  You can still make amends for bad choices, thus undoing some mistakes of the past.  Of course, we can not now change everything, but that is no reason to be sad about the past.  We can use what we learned to move forward with better choices.

I think the desire to make up for missing some things in the past is one of the emotions that gives rise to the “Bucket List.”  Of course, you may put things on the list that are new to your thought processes, but how many of the things you would list would actually be things you feel you missed out on in the past?  Is there some adventure you should have pursued in the past that you can still do now?

While there are many decisions I regret from the past, and some that I regret now actually, I have one basic problem with a “Do Over.” If I had made different choices in the past, would I still end up in the same place? You see, there are many things about the present I like as they are.  If I had gone a different route, would I eliminate some of the things I like about the today?  Would some of my close friends be missing?  Of course, I would not know they were missing if I had gone another way.

Friends meet up in Strasbourg

Friends meet up in Strasbourg

My jobs in recent years have allowed me to make new friends in other countries.  In fact, one of my best friends lives in France.  We have travelled to France, Germany and England together as well as much of the USA.  I can not now imagine a life that does not include him.  I never thought of these travels or friendships when I was young, so I could not have consciously made the choice to end up where I am.

Because of my love of my current adventures and friends, I guess I really do not want a “Do Over.”  I just hope the knowledge I have gained from past mistakes will allow me to make better choices in the future.

From where you are right now, do you wish to go on with the knowledge you have gained, or would you rather have a “Do Over” realizing it may take you to a different place?

BETTER THAN DEAD

I hear a lot of complaining about aging. Some of it is coming from me, so I admit in advance, I sometimes forget to be grateful I’m alive. Getting old ain’t fun, but not getting old is less fun.

Ghoulie at Gettysburg

Age brings financial limitations, aches, pains, and indigestion. On the plus side, it brings an end to commuting, doing whatever your boss tells you because you need the paycheck, and never having time for yourself. Being alive offers significant advantages over being dead. Which, to the best of my knowledge, is the only alternative to growing old.

dark cemetary

I think we are most afraid of age when we aren’t old yet, but see it coming. Most of the bewailing and bewhining about getting old doesn’t come from old people. It comes from middle-aged folks who feel they are quite old enough, thank you, and could we please just stop this aging nonsense? Can’t things stay put?

Not really.

The good news is the fear of getting old is much worse than being old. When you get to whatever age you have defined as officially “old,” probably when you retire or sign up for whatever your country gives to those who no longer work, old turns out to be life, minus going to work.

Just a continuation of life. There’s no sign saying “WELCOME TO OLD, A REALLY BIG TOWN.”

Old House in Hadley

Many of friends and family members died younger than I am now. A lot younger. There’s little point in agonizing about what might happen. Worry doesn’t change anything, but it sure sucks the joy out of now. The worst part of all the stressing over possible future disasters is we worry about the wrong stuff. Inevitably, what actually happens isn’t what we worried about. It’s something we never expected, for which we are utterly unprepared.

Someone quotable said that in this secular age, worry has taken the place of prayer. I don’t know whether or not prayer was ever effective at preventing bad stuff from happening, but I’m sure worry isn’t.

In the long haul — if you’re lucky enough to have a long haul — there will be sufficient real problems to keep you busy. You don’t need to worry about stuff that may never happen. Figure out what to do about the crisis when and if it happens. Otherwise, enjoy what you can.

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I gave up worrying sometime around the time I got the second cancer diagnosis. Clearly, the whole worry thing had failed. It was time to try a different approach.

I recommend living in the moment. Try it. You’ll see.

I don’t mind getting old. I resent being sick and hate being poor. On the positive side, I’m alive to complain about it. A lot of folks I used to know cannot say the same. They can’t say anything. That’s the down side of being dead.

Getting old, with all its hazards, will always beat getting dead.

LIKE IT SHOULD BE

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Everything is as it should be. No matter how strange or bizarre, in the end, it’s right. It does not mean we are happy about the way our book of life is written.  Where is my shelf of bestsellers? My big house on the cliff overlooking the ocean? The hot little sports car and my horses?

I want what I want. To be richer, healthier, younger. I want my brother, a final conversation with my mother. I want my old friends to not live so far away. To live, period.

I want those things I buy to last forever. How many times do I have to buy a new refrigerator? Didn’t I just buy this one? Really? That long ago?

Somehow, it works out. It balances. You wind up in a place you never imagined being, but after a while, you realize it suits you.

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Good stuff can be subtle. Crises whack you upside the head. Hard to miss them.

Happiness is sneaky. It slithers into your world like a mist, gradually invading the darkness and filling it with sparkles. One day, you find you are singing as you go about your daily tasks.

“Oh,” you say. “I’m happy. How — when — did that happen?”

It’s never all up or all down. The coaster tosses you from side to side. You scream down the big drop and laugh as the chain pulls your car to the next peak. That’s the point of the ride, isn’t it?

I once stayed in a resort so far beyond my expectations, I was stunned. The weather, however, was hot and humid. We could barely bring ourselves to go out and do anything.

hyannis cafe 110

The following year, we found ourselves in the most beautiful town on Cape Cod. We were near enough to the beach to see, hear, and smell the Atlantic. The room was horrible. The beds were hard. The bathroom was barely usable. But the weather was perfect, and the sun shone every day.

It’s okay to be sad. From sadness, we learn joy. We need darkness to understand light. (Remind me I said this!)


ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE, when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped. Or better. Or something else entirely.

LOVE IN OLDER WAYS

Love is a big bouquet of dark red roses on my birthday and a WRITER sweatshirt that I said I wanted.

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Love is hauling my tired old butt into the kitchen every night to make a tempting meal, even though the last thing I want to do is cook. Because he won’t eat if I don’t prepare dinner.

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Love is remembering the great times we had and being satisfied because we did what we wanted and enjoyed it completely.

Love is watching movies you don’t much like and sports you barely understand so you can have something to talk about.

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Love is him learning the new geeky computer-speak ’cause if he doesn’t, he can’t talk to my in my language.

Love is driving me all over the place because I’m not up to driving anymore.

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Love is realizing how ridiculous life is and laughing about it together.

Love is knowing you’re in the right place with the right guy. And being smart enough to realize how unbelievably lucky you are to have this man, who loves you, in your life.

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Love is being totally fed up with everything and still being happy because we are together and that’s enough.

(The dogs are great, too.)


I Want to Know What Love Is

290 – OTHER AND COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS

THE DEWY DECIMAL SYSTEM – THE BLACKLIGHT CANDELABRA

In response to Bumblepuppies prompt on Blacklight Candelabra, I created a three 3-digit number. I visited this Dewey Decimal System website and found the subject which matched my number. I got lucky.


I cheated. A little bit. I used my address, which is three digits. And hit a bulls-eye. My favorite subject for mental meandering and an occasional rant.

Number 290 — Other & Comparative Religion

We waste a lot of time trying to figure out what life means. We don’t waste nearly enough time doing what we enjoy … which in my opinion, is the meaning — or at least the point — of life. Most people think religion has something to do with it. I was taught there are two ways to approach religion:

1) It’s a formalized set of beliefs to which a bunch of people adhere. (William James)

2) It’s the center of you, most “propriate” — central — to your “self.” (Orlo Strunk)

I’ve always gone with door number two wherein religion isn’t a set of beliefs, rules, and guidelines — no matter how many people claim to follow it. It isn’t what someone says at a pulpit on Saturday or Sunday. It’s how you live, what you are. If you are a miserable, mean-spirited bastard, I don’t care how often you attend church, synagogue, or mosque, you are the way you are. Your religion is you.

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Most of us are essentially self worshippers. We may include others in our closest (most propriate) circle. A life mate, kids, pets, closest friends. Maybe dedication to an art — writing, painting, music. Or making money and accumulating stuff. Regardless, our inner core is our religion. It’s what gives life meaning.

Life is rarely what we want or expect. Never what we believe we deserve. So you gotta wonder if the reason you are sick, broke, or miserable is because you lack faith or failed to adhere to those Higher Laws. Yet if you look around, you’ll see many folks with faith aplenty whose lives are a train wreck. They explain it by saying “God has a plan.” I’m not going to argue if there’s a plan, but I question if said plan has anything to do with me.

I’ve put decades of thought into why my life keeps falling apart. I’m not perfect, but whatever I’ve done wrong, it’s small potatoes in the scheme of things. It’s hard for me to believe, even in my darkest moments, I’m so wicked The Big Guy has in for me. Personally.

One day, I realized I had my answer. Life is random. There is no meaning except what you give it. If you give nothing to life, life will give nothing back.

Whether what you put into your life is based on principles espoused by a “formal” religion” (per William James), or is what you hold in your heart (per Orlo Strunk), you know everything you need to know. Mostly, you know right from wrong because you were born knowing it. You know what you love, what you care about. You can now move about the cabin. Make your choices without expecting reward or punishment.

Life doesn’t make sense. Never has, never will. You don’t “do the right thing” because it will earn you a reward or a ticket to heaven. You do right because it’s right. Life will probably screw you over anyway, but not because you chose wrong. Merely because life is like that.

If believing in a loving God makes you feel good, believe it. It could be true. If it turns out you’re right, you’ve backed a winner. If believing there is no God floats your boat, go with that.  Whatever you do, I hope it makes you happy. Take your best shot. Whatever awaits at the end of the line, the one sure thing is today. Pity to waste it.

MERELY LIVING

DAILY PROMPT: ME TIME — What’s your ideal Saturday morning? Are you doing those things this morning? Why not?


I woke up this morning. I did my physical checklist. Did anything hurt more than usual? Less? Breathing okay? Everything was working as well (or better) than usual, so I put a bit more effort into “me” than usual, weeding through eyebrows until I found an arch. Not as nice as the lady in town creates with her wax, but weather has made going anywhere a hassle. I haven’t gotten to town more than a couple of times all month.

I made it to the kitchen and did my Alpha Bitch thing. The dogs obediently (with just a bit of back talk) went outside to do whatever business they needed to conduct. By the time they got back, I was cleaning.

coffee kitchen view sepia art effect

It’s not that I don’t clean. It’s that I need inspiration and energy. I had a little of both and I cleaned the places around the sink that don’t get cleaned because they are behind or under something. I did the sink, scrubbed the water dishes, refilled them … all the while hearing heavy breathing and the click-clack of excited toenails on linoleum.

The dogs were swirling with energy. Admittedly, I was slow with biscuits. The longer I take, the more worked up they get. Finally, finished, I pivoted to face the fur people. “Huffa, huffa, huffa,” they said. You’d think no one ever feeds them.

“Liars,” I tell them. They huff some more. Bonnie does her happy dance, leaping up and down until finally, I distribute a Greenie and a crunchy to each. Do they think if they don’t do their routine, I won’t give them their treats?

three dogs on stairs sepia

I’ve been up a while. Coffee is emitting little hisses of steamy satisfaction. I straighten the sofa. Bishop has been sleeping on it. He knows he isn’t allowed, but his interpretation is “what she/he doesn’t know doesn’t count” and makes sure he is off before Garry or I gets to the end of the hallway. Sometimes his timing is off and he gets caught in “flagrante delicto” so to speak. He leaves huge tufts of hair behind, so it’s not hard to figure out. Not to mention (but I will mention it) he rearranges the coverlets, pulling them off and putting them in a pile more to his liking. Bishop has the soul of an interior decorator. A hairy decorator with limited taste.

Eventually, seated, with a cup of coffee in hand, I turn on the computer and my day begins.

Today is Saturday. We are retired, so everyday is much the same as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Soon, Garry will join me. We’ll share quiet time, sifting through our email, answering and writing comments. It’s my favorite part of the day. Quiet, friendly, low stress. Whatever hassles the rest of the day may bring, morning is our time to decompress.

It’s life. Unsegmented into “me time” or “he time.” Life does not have sections. I don’t own a piece of the day, nor does Garry. I supposed you might say the dogs own all of it because they own us — but that’s another story.

OO-BLA-DI, OO-BLA-DA

No news is not good news. It’s just no news.

We are in a slow news period. It’s not as if nothing is going on. It’s just that nothing is going on in which anyone is especially interested.

2014’s elections were the usual vicious, contentious, nasty business. We used to get outraged, upset, furious about elections. Now, they come. They go. Everything changes, but nothing is different. This time, when the elections ended, it got quiet in a hurry. Bring on Christmas.

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The holidays came and went. All through February, the weather (pardon the pun) has been the hot topic. And who Prince Harry is (or isn’t) dating. “Deflategate” is being beaten to death on the sports networks, but is anyone listening? Do we care? As memories of the Super Bowl fade, spring training begins. Can the Sox pull themselves out of the tank? Is there hope for 2015? That’s the most interesting question on the news horizon.

We’ve had a lot of snow.

snow window poster february 2015

I’m sure a national calamity was predicted for this year, but I forget what it was. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, the sky isn’t falling, unless that’s really what all that white stuff is … the sky falling, I mean.

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So there are no fresh disasters. Whichever huge controversies were with us last year and the year before are still lurking, along with a few tired, sleazy scandals. It’s the same old, same old. Back to the everyday struggles of a tired population hoping things will get better and suspecting they won’t. A new year is rolling along. Oo-bla-di, oo-bla-da.

THE COMMITTEE

My cousin called. It’s nice hear from her, good to remember I have some living family remaining. There used to be a lot more of us. When we were all a good deal younger, we used to see each other sometimes at family events. Anyway, we got to talking about insomnia. It’s part of the “older person” package of goodies. I commented my problem is the committee. Its endless meetings. Just when I want to sleep, the meetings begin.

First up, the Scheduling Committee. Dental, doctor, and veterinary appointments. Vacation dates. Taxes. When the snow melts, we’ll have to get someone to take a look at the siding and the roof. See what needs repair.

Enter the Maintenance Committee. They get to worry about the aging heating system. The once new, now not-so-new refrigerator, range, freezer. Water heater. Doors, windows. And let’s not forget the well. Exhausted, I drift off for a while, but I’m awake and alert in time for the Family Concerns Committee.

Indian corn in kitchen window

The Family Concerns Group obsesses over health issues. Is Garry just tired, or is there some lurking disease? Is my shortness of breath because I’m old and out of shape, or something more sinister? Next up, worry about the kids and the granddaughter’s college education. And the dogs. Can’t forget the dogs.

I don’t even want to discuss the obsessive number crunching of Ways and Means. Complain, complain, complain. They just want to know where I’m going to get the money for everything. Shut up, already. I have no idea how I get from month to month and I’d just as soon not examine it too closely!

Wait! Another committee? Oh, right. Now it is time for the meeting of the Ecological and International Affairs Committee, an umbrella group that focuses on the economy. War. Global warming — which admittedly seems less an immediate threat right now than usual.

Melting ice caps. Disappearing polar bears. Besieged elephants, lions, tigers, rhinoceroses, and wolves. Where are the birds? Have they have survived this terrible month of bitter cold, snow, and ice? And the swans? I worry about swans. And geese. And ducks. Let’s not forget bats. We no longer have bats. They are all dead from an accidentally imported bat plague.

Bees. We are running out of hives. If we have no bees, there won’t be food. Which might be good for the planet. Fewer people equals less pollution. By the time the committees adjourn, the sun is up and I’m exhausted. Aren’t you? How are your committees? Had any good meetings lately?

What’s on tonight’s agenda?


Think Global, Act Local — “Think global, act local.” Write a post connecting a global issue to a personal one.