I have been ill the past week, and by ill, I mean that I was certain more than once that I was dying. I still feel a bit closer to death’s door than is comfortable, but I think I’m going to pull this one off and survive.
While in the midst of the throes of death and feeling generally down-hearted, I began a very unhealthy self-pity parade. It was grand. Guilt was there marching right behind Self-loathing while Fear was on the sidelines cheering them all on. Of course, the Grand Master of the parade was none other than Regret. If you’ve never been introduced to Regret: 1. You’re lucky; 2. He’s a bastard.
I don’t mean a fun-loving, harmless bastard like Uncle Ned who always puts the fake dog poo in the punch at family gatherings … on second thought, Regret is exactly like Uncle Ned.
So, saucy little thing that he is, Regret decided to stay in bed with me instead of finishing the parade that was supposed to march out the door. Unfortunately, without their grand master to lead the way, Guilt and Self-Loathing got lost and ended up in the bed paddling along in a pool of tears, snot and cat hair.
Self-pity combined with dying is never pretty, people. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you beforehand.
About the third night of feeling like death was imminent, I decided to watch “Eat, Pray, Love.”
I don’t care.
Yes, it’s a trite, sappy movie, and I may or may not have cried the duration of the damn thing. Anyway, in one scene, Richard Jenkins’ character tells Julia Roberts’ character that if she’d get all the thoughts about her past romantic relationships out of her mind, she’d have this wide open space where all of the love in the Universe could come crashing in and fill.
It struck me that if I could let go of all my regret, I’d have a lot more space in my mind. I’m not sure if the Universe would slam a bunch of love into my newly discovered space, or if I’m even comfortable enough with the Universe for it to be shoving love in places I hadn’t asked it to. But even if it wasn’t all the love in the Universe that was going to fill that space, I could still pack it with better things than regret.
Things like rainbows and cotton candy, and whether I have lain or have laid, because I’m forever forgetting which it’s supposed to be.
The point is that we all have something taking up space in our mind that shouldn’t be there. Yours may not be regret — maybe it’s worry or fear. Maybe it’s the image burned into your mind of your 85-year-old neighbor who went out to check the mail and managed to forget his clothing. Whatever it is, wouldn’t it be better to fill it with something worthwhile — something that made you feel good instead of not good?
I’m still not 100 percent sure how to just let Regret go. It’s been so hard just to walk away before. He’s been here so long — my almost constant companion. But I know it will all be worth it when I’ll be able to say with conviction that I have laid out Uncle Ned on the front lawn for, yet, another punch prank, and he has lain there, not moving for the past two hours.
Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can drop her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.