Every now and then

Every now and then:

“Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound
of my tears,
Turn around,
Every now and then I get a little bit nervous that the best of all the
years have gone by.” (Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler)

I love the words in this song. They have a way of causing me to reflect on those things in my life which seem to happen “every now and then.” I have made the following list of my most important ones:

• Every now and then, I get wistful, thinking of the people I once loved.
• Every now and then, I think of the friends and relatives long gone.
• Every now and then, I feel sad about the things I cannot undo.
• Every now and then, I go back to memories and places I will never see again.
• Every now and then, every now and then, every now and then, I just get
stuck. I wonder whether life makes any sense and if living longer is of any
value.

I think of the mistakes that I have made and wonder if I can undo them. I think of the people whom I have hurt and wonder if forgiveness is still too late. I think about the people I used to know who no longer talk to me or seem to want my friendship. I think about the opportunities I have missed and wonder whether I have learned anything from these mistakes. Every now and then I wonder whether my life has come to its apex and I should just “retire” like so many other people my age. I think of those fighters who fought past their prime when we all know they should have hung up their gloves. I wonder whether I am fighting for fame, fortune, glory or simply to make a difference. Every now and then, I wonder whether or not anything I have done has made one difference to the world and whether it’s worth the ongoing fight to make a difference.

We all have our every “now and then.” There is a sadness to my list. Perhaps your list would be more joyful or fun. What are the things that pop up for you “every now and then?” Can you make a list? Why do you think these things keep popping up? Do they represent regrets or unfinished business? Do you think they would come up less often if you could somehow put them to rest? What stops you?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bgalbreath
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 02:03:11

    In elementary school, I had a Catholic education. Part of the preparation for the sacrament of confession is called the “examination of conscience”. You are supposed to think back over what you have done, with an eye toward what you have done wrong. I haven't been to confession in 40 years or more, but I do have a list that I keep on my computer of things that I have done. It's not so much things that I am ashamed of having done, but a list of things that I would not do now, but did once.

    What I get out of keeping and periodically reviewing the list is that it keeps me grounded somehow and forestalls my tendencies to be judgmental of others. Whenever I see something outrageous that someone has done, I can find something with the same flavor (if not the same intensity) on my list. A Roman poet once wrote, “Nothing human in foreign to me”, and that strikes me as true. People often find other people's behavior to be incomprehensible (e.g. “senseless violence”), but I can usually imagine myself getting into a position to do what I hear others have done.

    What I get from your list is that you are chafing against your limited nature, which may be a good thing. “A man's reach should exceed his grasp”. A god could keep up with everything, have everything, do everything, and never have to let something go. Some Hindus believe that we are gods and that we will do everything, have everything, but over a cosmic time scale, comprising a virtual infinity of lifetimes. Be that as it may, within one lifetime, whatever experiences we have rule out the experiences we would have otherwise had. So I don't regret the things I didn't do since I see missing them as the price I had to pay to get to do what I did do. Since I don't feel bad about how I have lived, I don't regret the missed opportunities. (Or maybe I'm just kidding myself, who knows?)

    Reply

  2. John Persico
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 11:36:06

    Hi Bruce, I like your reflections and quotes here. I suppose looking at “mistakes” as a price is an interesting metaphor and thought. I often wonder if my “guilt” is simply catholic or my parental tapes. I know I have not erased them but I do try to exceed my grasp and maybe my abilities. I still find violence, like those two that killed the family in Connecticut to be incomprehensible. I can find any level of violence to be understandable as self defense, and sometimes as retribution but to attack people like those two guys did and then burn them to death or to simply go out and shoot people like the baseline killers in Phoenix is beyond my understanding. Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) says violence is cathartic and necessary as a thrill for people who are dead inside. What do you think? He thinks war serves this purpose of society as well.

    Reply

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