A Life of No Regret


I ran across this poem recently:

What I Regret
By Nina Cassian

. . . never having heard the voice of the Dodo bird . . .
. . . never having smelled the Japanese cherry trees . . .
. . . never having punished the lovers and friends that
deserted me . . .
. . . never having asked for honours that I deserved . . .
. . . never having composed a Mozart sonata . . .
. . . never having realised that I’d live long enough to
regret all the above . . .
. . . and much, much more . . .

What a heartbreaking indictment, a tragic litany for a final act.

At some point in my fifties I realized that if I continued my trajectory, I would die with huge regrets. The picture was graphic: I saw myself on my death bed. I felt the agony of an unlived life but it was more than that. I was ashamed. Why had I undervalued myself? Why hadn’t I followed my dream of travel, my love of adventure? Why had I squandered the gift of years? I was smart, strong, healthy, and capable right up to the end. I could have changed my circumstances at any time. But seeing the shrunken disillusioned shell I’d become, it was obvious I hadn’t.

The vision terrified me. But it prompted action: a slow steady turning of the barge midstream to head toward the waterfall, and conquering that, to the sea beyond.

What I know now that I didn’t know then is a basic condition of my character: I have the capacity for unfathomable darkness and I’m hard-wired for adventure. It’s in my DNA. But if I don’t get healthy excitement, and if the darkness isn’t deliberate it will come out sideways, corrupted, and dysfunctional. In my life, it had done just that.

People thought I was nuts to move to the other side of the globe alone, to a place where I knew no one and had only been once for a two-week vacation. But there are times when knowing settles into the bones; times when you realize that listening to the crazy voices in your head will save you.

People have asked me, “How did you summon the courage to do it?”

Courage? Ha! It was terror, pure and simple. I was terrified of the alternative and fear is by far the most powerful motivator there is.

That short visit was enough for me to know that Bali’s energy was different, that there was something there for me.

The culture is rich, deep, and ancient. Shamanistic rituals maintain the balance between darkness and light.

There are world-class events: the Ubud Writers Festival, the Food Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Bali Spirit Festival, the Kite Festival, the Arts Festival, that challenge and entertain.

There are natural disasters: earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, that provide enough trauma for several lifetimes.

There are problems: illiteracy, pollution, poverty, which create boundless opportunities to get involved and help. Bali, by nature, provides everything I need and allows me to be fully who I am, effortlessly. And maybe that’s the key: the lack of striving.

I hope you aren’t tired of hearing this from me. I know it’s a recurring theme. But I can’t emphasize enough the importance of living a fulfilled life. I hitched myself along for the ride on someone else’s dream many times. It’s a spirit-shattering business. Nobody but you can live your life. Nobody but you can nourish your soul.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Marshall
    Oct 30, 2018 @ 19:01:38

    Thank you! Needed this right now, perfect timing. The Universe is showing me the way yet again.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Rose McInerney
    Oct 30, 2018 @ 20:29:19

    This is wonderful Sherry!! Thanks for sharing with me and I plan to tag your post this week to promote it.. it’s perfect with our daily posts and fits with the discussion we all must be having!

    Happy day 🙂


    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 10, 2018 @ 22:30:00

      Thanks for promoting this piece, Rose. I feel so strongly that we should live abundantly, that too often we don’t give ourselves permission to be big, bold, and decisive about our own needs. Too often we think of everyone else first, not only to our own detriment but also to theirs…our children, our spouse. As my oldest daughter told me: When you’re happy and fulfilled, Mom, it gives us permission to be happy and fulfilled.



  3. Anonymous
    Oct 31, 2018 @ 00:02:49

    This may be my favorite piece that you’ve written Sherry. It’s deep and true. Love it!!



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Nov 11, 2018 @ 02:39:20

      Thank you. That’s high praise and I appreciate knowing that my writing rings true for you. It is always a delightful surprise when something that felt like it wanted to be said turns into a piece of writing that connects with others in a meaningful way. I appreciate knowing when that happens.



  4. Sondra Nicole Jackson
    Dec 13, 2018 @ 01:46:09

    Hi Sherry, I’m so happy that you are still enjoying your Bali life. This line right here totally resonates with me ” I was terrified of the alternative and fear is by far the most powerful motivator there is” I do not want the words “If only I had” to cross my lips at the end of my life. Wishing you Sunshine & Smiles



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