When we lose someone through divorce or death, we grieve. When someone physically hurts us, we first feel pain then anger. Looking into the eyes of a toddler makes us smile and we experience joy. These are spontaneous emotions. Regret is a different story.
Regret is a man-made emotion. Not spontaneous, but deliberate. So when she asked me if I had any regrets, I was stumped. Apparently, she imagined that during the first part of my retirement, I would reflect on the past and have some regrets. My response to her was that I couldn’t regret that which I didn’t do, because there is no way to know the road not taken. As Frank Sinatra said… “regrets I’ve had a few, but few to mention … I planned each charted course, each careful step along the way… I did it my way.”
That was when I realized that regret is not a real emotion like grief, anger, or joy. It is a deliberate decision to feel bad. Hmmm… but that doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone choose to feel bad. But, that is what many of us do. We dwell. We ruminate. We consider the “what if”.
That is not my way. I recognize that the past contains many lessons, but what is done is done.
I have no regrets, but have learned many lessons.
I never had time for anything. No time to shop. No time for pampering. No time for housecleaning. No time for anything except work. But now everything is different. Since retiring, I have an endless supply of time like millions of grains of sand on the beach.
I have time to read the entire newspaper… if I want. I have time to linger over a cup of coffee… if I want. Just the other day, I walked a lady to her destination instead of giving her directions, because… I had the time.
It’s as if I’m on an endless vacation. Now I understand why retired people move at such a leisurely pace, because they have time. No schedules to meet… no crises…no todo lists.. no more politics… no more… no more… no more. I don’t care “what you do”, I no longer take a few seconds to decide if you are worthy of my precious time before moving on to others. I now know that everyone is worthy and everyone has a story if only I take time to listen.
I’ve always said one either has time or money, but not both … unless you’re rich. Not being rich, I’ve had time and I’ve had “comfortable” money, but never both at the same time. So this is a strange, new feeling. It’s like getting used to a new pair of shoes. I’m walking around in them, and they don’t hurt, they don’t pinch, and they feel like the right size, but they still don’t feel quite right.
Imagine life as half vacation…. half work. I know that’s hard to imagine. Does that mean you work a week and then vacation a week or work a month and then vacation a month? No… in this scenario every day is half vacation and half work. What… how could that be? Well, let me attempt to explain the unexplainable by an example.
Wake up at 6am and walk 2 miles starting along the San Diego Bay. Followed by a vanilla latte at a bayside kiosk. Back to the apartment where we read the Wall Street Journal, and I then head off to work. Leave work at 4:45 and bike, walk, or drive to yoga class in a studio that could only be found in California (very serene). Head home and stop along the way at any number of restaurants. Then pour a glass of wine to take down to a hot tub by the pool. Next day…. begin again.
If the vacation never stops then is it still a vacation? Can you take a vacation from a vacation? The answer to both is ….No. To vacation is to vacate from something or somewhere so by definition… you cannot take a vacation from a vacation. I have inadvertently fallen down the rabbit hole, and get to experience vacation just about every day. It is impossible to capture in words.