I’m not talking about major life changing things I should have done, or bad choices that I did make, but most regrets for me are for the little things in life that I could have done. You know, the little things that strike you in the middle of a conversation, or a song on the radio, or a commercial on TV. You probably have them, too. The ones I have would complete a picture, a snap shot of my time on Earth, or rather how I see and feel about my life. It’s a short list, not because I’m perfect, but rather because I’m not. A long list might give my life more meaning . . . but maybe not.
- Recorded interviews I should have made of my grand parents, my parents, Peg’s parents, my mom’s sister and her husband. See: thesubtimes.com/2017/09/27/recording-sharing-and-saving-memories/
- Piano lessons. I wish I had made my three children take piano lessons like I had to. See: thesubtimes.com/2017/09/15/playing-the-piano-as-remembrance/
- My Jaguar XK150.
- Contact with my friends from high school and college.
- Not appearing on stage with Tacoma Opera.
As my mother grew older, she had a facial palsy and refused to be videotaped. I would have loved to record her memories of growing up in Chickasha, Oklahoma and her details about my grandfather. A day or two before my father died, I finally videotaped an interview with him. What I learned in that afternoon explained many of his actions and reactions. I had not known his history growing up and still don’t know all that I could have if I hadn’t waited until the last possible moments to interview him. I should have recorded him earlier along with my relatives and Peg’s relatives who had lived through the depression. It wasn’t until my book group read The Boys in the Boat, that I realized how the depression warped and changed both families and individuals. A world of stories and answers were lost when our older generation passed away. It’s a constant.
My mother made me take piano lessons on and off (as we moved from Tacoma to Lakewood and then to Ponders Corner) for six years. I still play piano and it relaxes me. We’ve had a piano in our home for almost all our married life. I hated taking lessons, but I finally came to realize that my mom made the right decision.
In the 70s I traded houses almost like Baseball cards. I swapped three houses for a classic Jaguar XK 150. I drove it once around the block before it quit running. Eventually, I traded it to a friend for six houses. Every time I see a Jaguar I think, “I should have kept that car.”
My best friend from high school died when he was in his early forties. Our buddies from Clover Park haven’t stayed close or even communicated. As as art student at the University of Puget Sound I had favorite people, but have only kept connections with one. What I do today is a long way from the art that I practiced at UPS, but what I learned still enables me to function in digital art and marketing today.
Die Fledermaus (German: The Bat) is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II. The original literary source for Die Fledermaus was a farce by German playwright Julius Roderich Benedix. One of the biggest of many laughs in Die Fledermaus comes in the third act when the drunken jailer, feeling especially put-open, declares, “but I am an Austrian civil servant!” The drunken jailer has no real singing parts, but has traditionally been used for humor, often by non-professionals from the community. I was offered this part in the 90s, but I couldn’t spare the time. It would have been a hoot. For example, in today’s world the jailer could say, “but I am an Pierce County civil servant!” Which would probably get some laughs . . . It’s kind of like the operetta’s of Gilbert & Sullivan, the jokes are constantly updated for laughs and commentary.
None of my regrets are Earth shattering, and mean nothing to most people, but they have meaning for me, which is the point. Different lives offer different regrets. I think it’s impossible to live without regrets. Each life starts out with lessons to be learned, decisions to be made, and actions completed. We’re not given a road map. We have to find our own way and that means roads not taken, short cuts used, and vistas not seen nor enjoyed. I still have dreams and things I haven’t done, yet. I hope I have the right regrets.