Sunday, June 25, 2017

Three in the morning

I don't know this person, but she's
going to be tired tomorrow.
It is Worth Mentioning that we will be different some day.
Think about that the next time you have "monkey mind," which is also known as three o'clock in the morning. 
Sometimes three in the morning is when you bolt upright, click on the light, reach for a pad and say, "I can't even stand my own brilliance right now." 
But sometimes, three in the morning is when your guilt and regret and self-doubt get together and party next to a poster of you on the wall.
I had a conversation with the man my daughter just married that I maybe liked as much as the man himself.

The backstory isn't important but it led to a discussion about regret, and whether regrets even make sense since they're just punishment for not knowing more than we possibly can at any given moment.  

I told him that when I'm having difficulty with someone who matters in my life, I imagine myself in the future remembering exactly the way I'm handling the situation in the present. I do this because I've learned that stubborn silences and refusals to bend and harsh remarks only make sense in the moment, which join with the other moments to become the past, which is where three in the morning holds those parties with the poster.

He said that this sounded noble, but that it isn't easy and sometimes it isn't possible, to set the present aside and stretch the imagination enough to assume future perspective.   
We were both right. 

Today, my elderly father is slowing down. Friends I've had for decades are talking about where else they "might" live someday, three of our children are nearby but for how long I don't know, and I am on a roll in my career with the desire and ability to stay at the wheel. I've been imagining for a while how I want to, and don't want to, remember - exactly now. 
I don't want to wish I was kinder,  more available, more patient, more attuned to the feelings of those I love, or more dedicated to my writing if those are things I can be exactly now. 
And while consulting the future to guide behavior in the present is hard, I know that for those who are nursing grudges, standing their ground, putting their pride way out in front, it will be a lot harder when there's no longer any point to it. 
My hope for people is this: consider that estrangements end, often over the birth of a child, rifts pass because they just seem stupid after a while, unimportant people may be your biggest fans,frail people are more frustrated with themselves than anyone else will ever be, and if you avoid hospitals because you hate them, the people in them hate them more. 

Someday, you will find that the ones you lost touch with, or those with whom you've grappled have moved out of your way. There may be a fleeting wish that they were there again. There are ways to make that hurt less.
Maybe you are already in the present that you wish to remember, and maybe there are people you would like to cut loose, thank you very much, the sooner the better. If so, Godspeed. 

If it's not like that, consider finding the strength to turn from the "I won'ts" or "I can'ts,"  that keep you comfortable on your side of distance, or safe on your side of a grudge and experiment with "I'll try." Understand that this is not giving in, but excellent training for kicking three in the morning in the ass. 

I have learned some things the hard way but I learned this easily: we don't stand in another's shoes often because it can be hard  on us to view our behavior from the outside without all those justifications that make it acceptable.  And this:  if it's hard to keep unnecessary comments to yourself until the moment ends, it's harder to take them back after you've released them.  

And this. 

Three in the morning should be about dwelling on better things, like, how it ever took this long to understand your incredible brilliance and all the things you can do with it when the sun rises, or, whatever happened to that kid in sixth grade who told everyone what the dirty words meant, or, whether it really is a deal-breaker to start a novel with a prologue.  
It's bad to live in the future, or the past. Some regret is inevitable. But some is preventable. 

That is one of my favorite things about life. 

It almost makes up for three in the morning.


  1. I loved this post. If you can make someone think, who is decades older than yourself, your work here is done!

    1. Well, that is one huge compliment, right there. Thank you.

  2. Lots of wisdom in this post. The best part for me was " don't want to wish I was kinder, more available, more patient, more attuned to the feelings of those I love, or more dedicated to my writing if those are things I can be exactly now."

  3. Thank you Valerie. I don't always meet my own future-standards but I try.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Will be thinking of you as you adjust to your father's slowdown. Hugs.

    1. Thank you, Paula. He's one of a kind;I know he knows what he means to me. In general, we're all discovering that life gives us chances to say "thank you" that shouldn't be missed.