Sister Lives

There are two fears that loom large in my life. The first is health; so much matters around that. The quality of our life is largely dictated by health first (and then money and companionship and all the other things. But, if you don’t have your health, nothing else really matters). After this past week of lethargic sickness, I’m ready to be healthy again.

The other fear I have is regret. I worry that I will look back on these years and wonder if it what I did now, here, will have been worth it. As I’ve written in the past, the bear is rising up in me. She grows restless. The difference between the young cub of my youth and now is that I have—dare I call it—maturity. Sense enough to look around and plan my next chapter in life. Sense enough to fulfill responsibilities. Sense enough to take a breath and reassess the state of my life before making drastic changes.

“I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” – Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed, by way of Tranströmer, calls the life you did not lead your sister life. We don’t know what regrets we will have when we hit eighty. We do not know what that life will have been like. I finally went and read the entirety of her Dear Sugar post in which the above quote came from. And in that response, Cheryl asks the question, “Have the most meaningful things in your life come to you as a result of ease or struggle? What scares you about sacrifice? What scares you about not sacrificing?”

The most meaningful things in my life have come from struggle. The times I spent out west; the terrible and frightful and lovely journey of my mid-twenties; my divorce; these were all struggling times for me. But out of each of them came something good. Discomfort hasn’t scared me. It is not a deterrent for me. When things become too comfortable, my hackles raise up. Something isn’t quite right, I think.

So, I wonder what should I be doing? What are the sister lives that I could have? I think it’s been evident in my past posts that I am not entirely happy with the life I have been living. This is part of why I’m headed to Europe in a few months. My expectations there are not to just have a good time and take a break from my current life. No, the expectation is to take a glimpse into a sister life, explore the unmapped parts of that life. I have never traveled internationally. This trip is a way to explore without jeopardizing the comfort of my current life. I do expect my thinking to change after this trip. I am hoping a bit of clarity will come to me.

One of my fears is that I will let the bear loose and regret giving up the life I lead now. Yes, it is dull and monotonous but it is secure. I have the ability and time to write. I have the money and vacation days to travel. I am very privileged and I need to learn to be okay with that. It is my own fault for living a dull and monotonous life (which I am in the process of remedying).

Regret is a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve largely lived a life free of it. The only regret I truly have is that I got married (I never wanted to get married but I got worn down. Shame on me for not staying true to myself). From that regret, though, came a determination to never compromise my values again. To never, ever put someone else’s happiness in front of my own. That sounds selfish but a lot of heartbreak could have been saved had I stayed with my truth.

I’m getting better at the health thing (did I tell you I’m going to run a 10K in May?) and I’m working on not having regrets. This blog is part of not having regrets. How many times have I said that I want to write? Too many to count. Now, I write. Every day. Even if the shit that ends up on the screen is as haphazard and meaningless as this post.