01 October, 2008

Petits Mort

I don't often spend much time reflecting on my past.  The past, after all, is the past.  I can't change what has happened but only can I learn from the experiences and apply those lessons to my present.  In this way, I live without regret.


This hasn't changed though I am currently wondering if I missed something along the way.  I don't need to feel regret, but I wonder if I have not fully learned the lessons of the past or if I have not let them go to the extent necessary or with the respect desired.


Women Who Run with Wolves talks about small deaths - noting the past events in our lives with respect and letting them go.  This is not about regret or mourning our mistakes or playing the "what if" or "I should have" game.  More, it is about acknowledging the choices made and not made.  Recognizing the paths not taken and the potential loss of an idea or a dream due to that choice.  It is acknowledging that by making the choice, a part of us died - just a small part; petits morts.


When I first read this, it didn't have that great of an impact.  I don't have regrets; don't think of my choices as mistakes.  And then I started thinking about it as the parts of me that were lost by choosing the path that I did.  There were dreams that changed; desires that were put on hold - or that, in a sense, died.


Have I not taken the time to acknowledge those parts of myself with the respect that they need?  Am I not able to move completely past them because they have not been put to rest as completely as I thought?


It is not that I have made the wrong choices, just that there is loss involved with every choice; equal loss for the gain acquired.


When I graduated from college, I chose to move to Prague to teach English.  I didn't get a job as my other friends did.  I didn't start my career.  I elected to do something very different than anyone I knew at the time.  I loved it!  The personal gain was significant and yet, it was a year away from family, it was a year that cost me a dear friend, it was a year that separated me that much more from other friends... and it was a year in which I was not gaining professional experience or adding to my professional portfolio.


More significantly, I have made choices that have resulted in the loss of my professional aspirations.  I made choices that took me out of my love of travel and placed me firmly in the world of domesticated woman.  I selected a path of motherhood over career woman; a path of single parenting over marriage


It is possible that some dreams, some paths are continual in that I can travel them at any time.  I can work to fulfill that dream today or in ten years.  There are other dreams; other ideas that do not have that characteristic.  I can have a marriage and a family or a committed relationship with a man, but I will never know these experiences without being a parent and on my own for years first.  The experience is different; the dream of doing it all from man to child ended when I had a child first. 


The one thing I have always done and done well is writing - clinical, creative it didn't matter.  I did it well.  I could edit as well.  I no longer do either of these things.  I am not sure why.


Did I, at any point, sell myself short?


Right now, I am wondering about that.  I wonder if, at some point, I chose a path and gave up on myself, my dreams, and my freedom.  I wonder if I clipped my wings and decided that a cage was more desirable than flying free.  And am I in a cage - where are my dreams?  What are my dreams?  Where is my focus?


 I don't regret any of my choices.  I would make the same decision and travel the same paths were I to have the chance.  But sitting with my cousin the other night, seeing his life and career stretching before him, I wondered about my paths and my dreams.  I wondered about the petits mort that mark the timeline that is my life to date


T said...

Everything you have done, every choice you made was the perfect choice at the time. You chose it based on what you knew then. If you choose to go back and revive a dream then so be it. Regrets do nothing but cause pain. You're not in pain. You're happy where you are. Perhaps your cousin's path is nothing more than an inspiration to you to go back, find something that felt good to you and bring it into your present and future. Its not to late. Find your dream and go for it!

dadshouse said...

I read Women Who Run With The Wolves hoping it would give me greater insight into women. It sort of didn't. lol.

I did get some new insights into myself. A lot of what is in that book could apply to men or women.

And I suppose I did get a better understanding about how a woman's intuition differs from a man's.

I did enjoy all the fables and stories in it, especially Skeleton Woman. Not sure why that one stuck out for me!

The Exception said...

T - I have no doubt that I made the right decisions at the right time. It was a very different way of looking at the past - one I had not considered. Trusting in timing is one of those things I do without much thought - probably only because I find that to try and not trust my instincts, and time, and intuition... well, it just doesn't work!

David - That story struck me as well. I would suggest that it was one of my favorite parts of the book (which I intend to read again). I am drawn to the beauty of the deserts - the passion and the color and the stories - the emptiness that allows for so much creation to blossom. I like the notion that the soul is indestructible - it is in the bones and a part of our very structure. When we are reduced to bones, the spirit is allowed to live in its wildest form thanks to the songs and the care of the woman.