Live and Love Without Regret

Mary Oliver, Elaina Avalos, Live Well Be Well, Wild and precious life

The great thing about getting older is that you start to hone in on what really matters. If you’re seeking answers and determine to live authentically, that is. Because you could definitely chase poop that doesn’t matter, right on until your last days. But if you are truly seeking to live out your best life, I think you find with time, that some things just don’t matter anymore. And sometimes that means you’re okay looking like a fool to everyone else – while doing, saying, and living as you feel compelled to.

The older I get, the more certain I become about what I do & don’t want to give my time to anymore. I also know that I can’t stomach regret. Through therapy and some tough knocks the last couple of years, that is becoming even more clear. I’ve promised myself to live a life without regrets.

Recently, I went down a rabbit hole of regret when I was second guessing sharing my heart openly, with someone I cared about. I shared my heart with him and there was no response, (which is a response). It sucked. That’s the thing though, I don’t want to make space in my heart or mind for regret. I told him because I promised myself I wouldn’t live with regrets. I didn’t want to figure out what came next for me, without telling him how I felt. And while that didn’t really work out for me, what’s worse is always wondering. I have my answer through his silence.

We can trick ourselves, when things don’t work out the way we’d hoped, that maybe we’ve made the wrong call. But the truth is, sometimes the gift is in the practice of trying, stepping out onto the limb, or trying something we’re terribly afraid to try. The more we exercise this muscle, the stronger it becomes, and the easier it is – when those moments of self-doubt pop up – to squash them. We only have this one life to live. I can’t fill it with regret. You can’t fill it with regret. None of us should.

At 45, I’ve spent the better part of 20 years around a young crowd. I haven’t had kids of my own. And something about those two things, has kept me feeling pretty young in many ways. But where I am happily feeling my age is in figuring out what matters and where to focus my energy and time. Now more than ever, that means to live and love without regret.

So – as I look toward my future, there is freedom in choosing each day to live my one, wild and precious life. If I’m focused on living fully – no matter where it takes me (even if it’s in the city I least want to be in), I’m able to see the beauty in each day. Life is not some far out thing that happens “someday.” It’s now. I refuse to look back someday with the realization that life was happening all around me and I missed it. I just won’t do it. The older I get the more certain I am that our opportunities for the life we want are in the every day choices we make now.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
—Mary Oliver

The Trouble With Wanting

“And if you never come back
If you never call
I say I’ll understand when I don’t at all

‘Cause the trouble with wanting is I want you
The trouble with wanting is I want you
The trouble with wanting is I want you
And I want you all the time”
– Joy Williams

I don’t understand. I don’t think I ever will. But I’m certain, somewhere in the quiet places, I’ll always miss you. Around dark corners, when the busy days grow quiet – I will wonder. I will think of you.

These days, when the day fades, in the quiet of these humid summer evenings, I wish to understand. But the artist in me knows that the beauty in life, is often found in the grey. In the hazy spaces, where things don’t make sense, is where life grows deeply vibrant. Pain turns to growth. We find truth, art, beauty. It’s sometimes buried deep – but by God – it’s there.

My greatest joy has always been born from pain.

I am not sure I’ll ever understand. But I’ve certainly learned, in a way that makes me a better version of me, from what I’ve lost or don’t understand. And you, the man I’d burn it all down for, are no different.

“There are more questions than answers. In the beauty of this wild thing, I long for you. What is and will not be follows me around like a coastal fog. Through the haze I see you. I don’t hold it against you – you can’t tame wild things.

I live here in this tension, with what will not be, settling into the cold, wild – alone.”

I don’t hold it against you.

But, I think somewhere in my heart, I will always miss you.