Tuesday, January 25, 2011

in light of my thirsty, sunless cacti

I have failed my cacti. Several weeks ago I brought them in out of the cold. A week too late. Since then I have watched them become gaunt and emaciated. Have winced as Scooter (the short one) lost his happy plumpness, looking squished. Have frowned as Pickles (the tall one), once straight and proud, listed then bowed beneath its own weight. Have grimaced as Beans (the most ferociously prickly one) bruised like wilted lettuce on a Wendy's burger.

Attempts at revival have been made; but I fear the end is near. Am I ashamed? A bit, yes. Any regrets? Of course.

Speaking of: I call shenanigans on those who swear to have none. If truly one has no regrets then s/he just wasn’t trying hard enough, I think. S/he took no real risks. S/he has yet to live. As near as I can figure, I would say that my life is seventy-five-percent regrettable. Of the remainder, I am cautiously proud; cautious because pride comes before regret; so I hush my rare successes and teach them to be gracious--knowing how quickly they can be wrenched from my grip. On the remainder, I am sufficiently nourished; who needs the worry of perfection when hard-fought, dearly-bought sustenance is enough?; so I feed my rare successes in nibbles--knowing how thunderously gluttonous ones fall.

A life without regret? Perhaps. I'm not saying it's impossible. Maybe I'm saying a life without regret is itself regrettable. (Don't stop to do the math, come back to it.) We hear it asked: If you could go back in time, what, if anything, would you change? What would you do differently? And we hear it answered so often: Nothing. I'd do it all again, just the same. No regrets. But really? Perhaps. I suppose it's conceivable. But most likely, I think we answer that way for shame of the truth. We are conditioned to be ashamed of shame, to be embarrassed by failure. We fall on our swords rather than face our compatriots with egg on our faces.

In light of my thirsty, sunless cacti . . . If nothing else, I tried. In light of that . . . If I have failed at every turn, I have learned during the next straightaway. If I have failed to learn, I will, without fail, as often I have, come to regret it.


  1. I like this idea of regret.
    Do you regret getting beans name wrong.

  2. Holy crap! Good eye. I have failed Beans doubly now. Thanks for noticing and thanks for reading. Now I'm gonna fix the blunder.

  3. You have just joined the Sonia's green thumb society. She killed a cactus once also(did not water it for an entire year)

  4. love this idea that life without regrets is regrettable. reminds me of a wendell berry poem i've been obsessed with lately -- the mad farmer liberation front.