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Old Regret

I thought of all the pain and how we met
Late in our lives yet lavishly at ease,
Having assumed an end to old regret..."
- from "The Balcony," May Sarton, 1980

The words of this poem are rich with layers of meaning for me. One voice of a couple, here acknowledging the joys and pains of life roughly lived: speaking of years past, damaged relationships, losses, longed for opportunities that melted with the passage of time. These brief lines from May Sarton's longer poem "The Balcony" ends with this final image, "And out of deprivation, a huge flower." These words are exquisitely beautiful. Drenched in a translucent pain fully comprehended, and because of the wisdom of such understanding, beauty.

How is it we find in ourselves the strength and desire to carry on? To begin again, starting over from the disappointments of the past? John F. Kennedy once described his father after his stroke, saying, "Old age is a shipwreck." From Sarton's words, I think old age is neither the limit nor the context, but a point along the living way. We are always beginning. Over and again. In life, in work, in love. Yes, the passage of time is worn in the lines on our foreheads, to be sure. But time - lost, burnt, wasted, empty, wronged, violated, hurt - needn't be the melody of the heart. I love the thought that once regrets are done and thrown over our shoulders, we are "lavishly at ease." Mistakes have their ends. Beginnings follow. The bridge between them? Acceptance.

So ease on into your day, your regrets behind you. And perhaps out of deprivation you may find in your cupped hands a huge bloom.
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