I have two real regrets in my life. I've worked very hard to make sure that bad decisions in my past can be easily rendered into lessons about life that were much needed, therefore not having to classify said mistakes as regrets, only "part of the process". It's been a good process. A hard one at times. But good. The two regrets that I do have (and no, they aren't any of my children) involve me inflicting a great deal of pain on someone that I loved very deeply. Twice now I've done it. Someday when my body has outlived my foolish pride, I will tell you about them in glorious and gritty detail, because they are stories worth hearing, if only to prevent the Rest Of You from doing what I did. But for now, I'm still too prideful to put words and names and shameful actions out there for the scrutiny of the masses, because I can't handle the inaudible gasps that I guarantee my mishaps would garnish from your lips.
Grand mistakes, regrets, or valuable learning curves, on the winding path of this ever-evolving life, I find myself once again at an intersection of faith and reality and fantasy and hope. And I'm not sure which is which. But I can look backwards, at what is quite obviously reality, and move ahead accordingly.
MacKenzie turned 17 yesterday. And it made me think of when I was 17 and I hadn't "ruined" my eyebrows (thanks Hannah) by plucking them yet. I was "in love" with a man I didn't even know. But from afar, in my lavender walled castle tower, I imagined him to be a bohemian gypsy knight sent to save me from mundanity. And truth be told, he did. I thought about what advice I could give to a 17 year old clone of my very passionate self, or what I would have tried to shake into my own head at the time, and for all I have learned, it was surprisingly difficult to think of words that would have any weight on my flighty soul. This is all I could come up with:
Dear 17 Year Old Me (or carbon copy thereof [ahem, Kizzie?]):
Remember these things in every decision you make:
1) Your gut is usually right. Not your pitter-patter heart or your analytical mind. No. Your instinct. The first impression that flashes through your body. Like a chill or a snap or a warm sensation of Knowing. Do what you know is right, even when it hurts like hell. Be the person you would want to have for a friend. Go with your gut.
2) You will mess up. Thank goodness. It's ok. Enjoy your messes. Don't ever, ever, ever deny them, blame them on someone else, or leave someone else to deal with them. Messes make us human. They seperate us from Cylons. They make us beautiful. Like Starbuck. She was so much cooler because she WASN'T PERFECT. And in the end, wasn't SHE the real angel? Enjoy life. Enjoy your humanness, Your imperfection and that of other people. There will be consequences and sometimes they will seem unbearable, but for people like me and you, the consequences seem more worthwhile than the Not Knowing, Not Doing. Seek joy in everything. Seek to bring joy to everything. Be imperfect. And clean up your messes.
3) You will love many, many, many times. You may experience a love once that is deeper and stronger than any you have ever or will ever know. It will become the standard by which all love is measured for you, and that's ok. My greatest hope for you is that you land inside of that love and live there forever. But if you don't, be grateful you tasted it and that you know it exists. But don't discount the other loves. They are real. They have their places and reasons and meanings and they teach you. Enjoy them. Don't despise them. Don't regret them.
4) Never Ever Settle. Maybe that last one sounded like it's ok to settle for a less than perfect love. But really, there is no perfect love. Even the best love is imperfect. But do not settle for infatuation. Do not settle for lust. Don't settle for conditional relationships. Do not settle for practicality and convenience or for social acceptability. And never, ever settle for unkindness, for cruelty, for manipulation, for control. Never settle for anything that makes you feel like less than you know you are, even with all of your messes and flaws.
5) Chase what you love. Chase it hard. Relentlessly. Go after it. Work hard. Sweat. Cry. Fight to make it BE. Life is so short, and yet it goes on and on and on furiously without letting you take a break to get oriented to your own destiny. But you must take risks to make it worthwhile. Do the things you have to do, but find a way to make the things you HAVE to do the same as the things you WANT to do. There is a way. Fight for it. See #1 & #4
Most of all, LOVE COURAGEOUSLY.