Thursday, January 2, 2014

Writing in the Snowstorm

I'm obviously not out in it, but have been watching it since it began at 2... almost 4 hours.  What a luxury, to be able to sit at my desk and watch the snow "heaping field and highway/with a silence deep and white" as James Russell Lowell put it.

Yesterday I posted that list of "What you will regret when you're old"  and have been thinking of it in relation to my own life.

I look at myself 45 years ago, when I was 20, playing the guitar and singing with my friend Barbra in a coffeehouse on our little college campus:

I even remember one of the songs we sang, which seems so appropriate for this night. By Gordon Lightfoot  ( when I see his recent photos, I am shocked. He was never supposed to get old!)

"Song For A Winter's Night"

The lamp is burnin' low upon my table top
The snow is softly fallin'
The air is still within the silence of my room
I hear your voice softly callin'

If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you

The smoke is rising in the shadows overhead
My glass is almost empty
I read again between the lines upon the page
The words of love you sent me

If I could know within my heart
That you were lonely too
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you

The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are liftin'
The mornin' light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are driftin'

If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
And to be once again with with you
To be once again with with you.

I have a recording of us from about 1975, singing that song... not sure if we sang it the night that photo was taken.   I remember the young man with whom I was in love at the time, and wonder where he is today.

Anyhow... my 20 year old self didn't have this list, but she did heed some of the suggestions on it.

* I did travel every time the opportunity presented itself... or almost every time.  
*   I do fervently regret not learning Spanish.  Am trying now, but it is so hard now.   I studied French for five years and find that it comes back -  it did when I went to France in 2004. Studied German for two years in high school, and even some of it came back when I went to Germany in 1973.

* I had the sense of self-esteem and self-preservation not to stay in any bad relationships.

* Very much regret not using sunscreen in my youth --- but in my youth no one paid much attention to such things.  I have the scars from many basal cell removals now.

* I did see my favorite musicians  back then.

*  I was scared to do things... and am still glad I was.

* I did fail to make physical fitness a priority, and again, in my youth no one paid much attention.
But as a result, I don't have the knee problems and back problems some of my more sports-minded friends have now.

* I did let myself be defined by gender roles.  Would probably have had more adventurous jobs if I had not... but then, my whole life would be different now if I had.

* I did quit terrible jobs.

* I do regret that I didn't try harder in college.  Not so much the better grades, but the deeper knowledge and more critical thinking skills would have resulted.  Maybe I would have been accepted to grad school in English at UVa  in 1971 if I had.  But then again, my life would be different.

* I most certainly did not realize how beautiful I was! I thought I was fat and homely!

Whew.  That's enough for now - not quite a third of that list.  

Regrets, I've had a few,  as Frank Sinatra sang.  But I am now old enough to know that my life is my life. There's a great quote about that from Wendell Berry's  Hannah Coulter...but I can't find it now.

Once, one of my Freshman Seminar students wrote that one of his life goals was to have no regrets.  I almost laughed in his face.

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