Loved and Lost, Left and Laughed

Have you heard the expression

It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Although this can be a great way to think about past relationships — appreciating love in all its forms — it can also make us feel melancholy, miss “the good old days” or regret things we did.

I recently stumbled on a new musical artist, Leif Vollebekk. In his song When the Subway Comes Above the Ground he twists that well-known homily like this:

“It is better to have left and laughed than never to have left at all.”

– Leif Vollebekk, When the Subway Comes Above the Ground

For some of us, this is all too true! It is better to have left unhappy or abusive relationships and learned to laugh again. It is better that we found our inner, hidden strength, that we learned to respect and love ourselves… It is so much better to be alone and happy than attached to someone who hates himself so much, he is intent on making you miserable. He probably does love you, but he is so unhealthy he doesn’t know how to treat you with love and respect. Let him be the one one saying “it is better to have loved and lost…” Many people who love each other can’t live together peacefully, and that’s just the way it is.

It has been over twelve years since I left and laughed. If you are on the threshold of doing the same, considering leaving an unkind mate, let me tell you there is life after an ugly relationship, there is laughter after leaving.

International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies
yellow rose

“Leaving” could apply to other things, too. Maybe for you, it’s about leaving a job that isn’t good for you, or maybe you are thinking about leaving the place you are living. If you really can’t find a way to laugh — enjoy yourself, be happy — then maybe it is time to move. Sometimes we outgrow a place (or job), and the only solution is to leave and accept our “bigger good” somewhere else. Just keep in mind that if you are trying to run from your problems, they have an uncanny way of following you!

But sometimes, you just have to leave that drab apartment for a nicer place. Have you ever ridden a subway that came above ground? It is an interesting experience, and Leif Vollebekk’s song captures it beautifully (video below).


Thanks to CBC Radio, Q with Jian Ghomeshi for introducing me to this great music.

The Legacy of Children

Can I take some time to share something that’s on my mind? I don’t usually share such deeply personal things, but today, my thoughts have crystallized in a new way, so I would like to try to express them.

I am 39 and have no children. I don’t think about having children much, but sometimes I wonder if those around me, like my sister with two kids, think I have a golden life. I don’t have to plan my schedule around nap times, or run my life by the extracurricular activities of my pre-teens. I have an incredible husband and the loveliest cat, and they put few demands on me and my time. I am insulated from the craziness of today’s world, in many ways, because of where I live and because I have no kids. I am happily child-free, but it isn’t quite as simple as that (it never is).

Sometimes I think about what my legacy will be. What will I leave behind when I am gone? A mortgage only partially paid off. An old car which I love but has little value beyond its value to me. A grieving husband, if he doesn’t go first. Boxes of momentos.

It is thoughts like these that drive me to write. I have finished two books*, and they, in large part, are my legacy. Writing and publishing books may not compare with the hard work of childrearing, but it’s my work (and my joy) to do it. If you have children, your legacy is obvious.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Raising children today looks like a huge challenge; that’s why I hesitated to do it earlier. That, and the timing of events in my life just hasn’t been conducive to conception. I would have liked, perhaps, to have had a little one or two in my late twenties or early thirties, but those were crazy times. I had just left my abusive husband. I was a wreck for a while, and after that, I simply needed to be alone. I healed from the experience, but since I was wasn’t in a long-term relationship in those prime kid-having years, I feel it wasn’t meant to be. Make no mistake — I am completely at peace with my childlessness.

I write this to share my perspective. While my life is simpler, I sometimes feel like I carry the burden of being a producer — I must make a difference in the world in a way other than bringing a new life into it. I must leave the world a better place — cleaner, sustainable, more beautiful and more kind — for everyone, not just for my children and their children. My perspective is wider, because it can be; a mom with one in diapers is focused on different things than I. I think about the essence of the planet… the spirit of a river…

Me and JSometimes I feel like I can’t relate to my friends with small children, and I think that they don’t relate to me. I can feel some people wondering if I have tried to have kids and can’t. It makes them feel awkward around me — some of them feel sorry for me. Please, don’t. There is nothing to feel sorry for, or about! I made the wise decision not to bring little people into an abusive family situation (my first marriage), and it was absolutely one of the best decisions I have ever made. Now that I feel vaguely ready to have kids, I’m a touch too old, but that is certainly nothing to feel sorry about. Please direct your sympathy elsewhere — there are a thousand better uses for it, including towards your own children! They are your legacy, and they need your unconditional love and acceptance, 24/7.

I am blessed to have little people in my life — in friends and family, and friends that are like family — and I am supremely blessed to have found a husband who is loving, accepting, and appreciative of me. What more could I ask for? Nothing. Nothing at all. 🙂

*For those who don’t know: My first book is the one associated with this blog, Love Your Skeletons and my second book, just released, is York Boat Captain: 18 Life-Changing Days on the Peace River.

Live and Let Live

Sometimes, I wish the world was more of a “live and let live” kind of place. It occurred to me that there are two aspects of this: “Live” and, of course, “let live.”

Live

You gotta live! When we don’t live our life to its fullest, that’s when we get grumpy, snarky, and we stop accepting others around us. If we “settle,” give in, or just play it safe all the time, we cheat ourselves out of all the best life has to offer and deep down, we know it. So we feel unhappy, because being unhappy is a signal — sort of a neon sign! — that we need to change something in our lives, and quickly!

So, if you’d like to join me on this planet of Live and Let Live, please make sure you do the first part thoroughly! Go on that vacation you’ve always wanted, or at least start planning it! Spend time with your favourite people in the world. Go to the park, the beach or the bookstore — whatever you enjoy most. Go to your favourite restaurant or listen to your fav band play. Take time out to visit a friend. Leave work early. Live it up!

Let Live

What does it mean “to let live?” It means to accept others as they are and not have any great desire to change them. It’s not about tolerating people who are different — it means celebrating each and every person exactly as they are!

photo from http://eatsleepquilt.blogspot.ca/2011/06/my-mid-morning-walk.htmlHave you ever watched a child play? Didn’t you feel joy or fascination at their freedom, playfulness and exploring spirit? Imagine watching a couple of little children splashing in a kiddie pool or public fountain on a hot summer day. They are having fun and living in the moment, and you can’t help but smile as you see the joy on their faces. That feeling (what you feel while watching them) is pure acceptance. You don’t have any desire to prevent them from splashing, or to make them conform to your way of splashing. You feel happy just watching them do what they do. That’s what it feels like to accept others as they are and to “let live.” You don’t need them to be more like you, to agree with you, or to stop doing something they are doing. You simply accept and love them as they are!

Another aspect of accepting others relates back to accepting ourselves. If we don’t accept ourselves, we will find it very hard to accept others. The aspects of another that irritate you the most are probably aspects that you are not proud of in yourself. Why not look at yourself like you look at those playing children — in wonder and amazement at your growth and how far you’ve come.

Let me know your experiences with “live and let live.” Is this easy for you? Do you struggle with it? Or do you think it’s not even very important these days?