Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Someone told me that the worse thing that you could do to yourself is to regret things you did and things you did not do. When I lived in Korea, I had plenty of time to do meditation and there were volumes of things I regretted in my life. Well, since I did not have books to read, movies to watch, people to talk with and after a while I had time to spare I started to meditate on those huge lists of things not done and things I wasted doing for so many years. I went into it intending to learn to live with my own actions. I came out of it with an astonishing discovery. I did not waste any of my time.

Growing up, I had plenty of people who were willing to tell me what I was doing wrong. My mother said I dreamed too much. Another relative said I wanted too much. Still others said I ate too much. There were no shortage of people who told me I was doing a whole host of things too much. It's funny but few if any people ever told me what I was doing right and in fact I have no memory of anyone telling me that I did this or that right. (I made sure I told my children and students what they were doing right not only once but many times.)

For everything that I was doing too much, I discovered by doing different forms of meditation there were some important and positive results that came out of it that now plays an important part in my life. For instance, I daydream too much was one complaint. What came out of it was the ability to put a credible story together with strong characterization and plot. I am a better writer thanks to that activity. I never run out of plots. I always just sit down and start to write and the story unfolds before my eyes. I get writer's block but not because I don't have a story to tell.

No one went beyond high school in my immediate family except me. I was told I wanted too much. I pushed myself to get through high school after quitting and then obtained several degrees and then retired with four pensions. I fell down but I always picked myself up because I wanted to be my own person and not have someone support me. I was able to retire early on my own resources. Of course, I lived during a time when this was possible, but I entered the work force in 1962 and that wasn't easy. I wasn't from a family that helped or supported me through college. I had to do it myself. I wasn't even brilliant. It sounds like I am bragging, but I am not. I have the scars to prove it.

I ate too much because I was overweight. I did not know that I had health issues that created my overweight. The overweight helped me achieve my goals because I could not depend on my looks or charms. I had to do it the hard way. I also could not marry success either which was not what I wanted to do.

So all of the things that I thought I regretted were lucky breaks for me. Even the dysfunctional family background gave me the courage to do things on my own and not depend on family and inherited wealth to give me what I wanted out of life. I think if we listen to what people tell us are the negative things about us, we are missing the good things about our lives because what I am writing here are some of the same things in other people's lives.

I know a man who was a Olympic medal winning gymnast who had a successful business who suffered a major stroke after he left his wife and five kids for a younger woman. She left him when he could not do the things he used to do and had to have help just moving around. His kids eventually forgave him for leaving their mother who found a new life living on her own. He began life as a Buddhist and was happier. He felt so unhappy for his huge mistake and carried it around him on his back especially since he had one child with the woman who left him until he realized that it was lucky for him that the stroke happened for he was happier and closer to his children including the one who came to live with him as her mother gave her up too. He told me he had to log lots of hours in meditation until he realized how lucky he was.

He still can't run the marathons he used to or do the things he did before the stroke, but if he concentrated on that instead of the other things that came into this life he would still be bitter and unhappy. He is much happier and is a staff writer for a Buddhist magazine for half the money. His first wife took half the business in the settlement and is happy running it. He lost his half when he had his stroke.

Is my life totally happy? No, I came home to find out my ex-husband stripped my house clean instead of remodeling it. I have a pile of trash in my yard that I have to pay to get rid of. I am spending my savings just replacing the stuff he took to his home or threw away. Yet, I am happier and more content. Material goods are not as important as the self. I think my kids are better off when I was gone and my son who lives in my house has a new partner and has made some improvements in his financial situation. I am not wasting my time regretting things that are not anything that I should regret. We make our choices and most of the time, we do get it right.

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