Old Letters, Regrets, and Living in Perpetual Stupidity
I love this column. It's beautiful. So honest and so well-written. Thanks.
This was beautiful, thank you.
I often draw comfort from a similar observation that Oscar Wilde made in a letter to a friend after visiting his wife's grave in 1899, four years after the conviction and prison sentence that broke his health and spirit, and only a year before his death. Given the sexual mores of the time, he could easily have blamed himself for the breakup of their marriage -- or blamed himself for suing the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel, or for failing to flee to France (as he had been advised to do) before he lost that suit and was then convicted of homosexuality. Instead he wrote:
"It was very tragic seeing her name carved on a tomb – her surname, my name not mentioned of course. . . . I brought some flowers. I was deeply affected—with a sense also of the uselessness of all regrets. Nothing could have been otherwise, and Life is a terrible thing."
Beautiful, Tim. I’ll be thinking about this piece for a long time.
“It’s hard, at any age, to comprehend that we’re still very young, because it’s the oldest we’ve ever been, and we figure we ought to know better by now.” Just stunning ❤️
So, this one made me cry (which is good).
And this part, “Maybe you just have to learn to accept, even embrace, being perpetually stupid—what Rilke more artfully called “living the questions”—in the dubious assurance that you’ll one day be smart enough to rue it.”, rings true in so far as I’ve never become smart enough and time’s running out.
My favorite so far, thank you.
After we broke up in our early 20s, my high school boyfriend unceremoniously handed over an entire garbage bag full of our written correspondence. We were in the parking lot outside a punk show in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I ￼took the bag, but could never bring myself to read the letters. Now, 20 years later, maybe I will. Thank you for this beautiful essay.
Agreed with the previous commenter: this is my favorite The Loaf newsletter so far. It reminds me of the We Learn Nothing essays that have so inspired me. I return to those regularly, especially when I feel the need to be lifted up by great writing and profound insights. Thanks, Tim! Keep them coming. We need the light you shine.
Damn, Tim! Nailed it! This is my favorite newsletter edition so far– great writing!
Such a great read from my 74-year old vantage point, like looking in the mirror. It’s true that we are trying to forge our own independence, our mission when we’re young to be sure. It’s also true that too many things can seem like life or death in those early years. My dad often said “don’t sweat the small stuff”. For those of us fortunate enough to reach old age, we see how time has tempered our excesses and we appreciate the value of relationships and the deeper pleasures of life. No regrets, just fond memories and gratitude for (just about) all of it.
Beautiful. Thank you.
Instead of "live long and prosper" maybe it should be "may you live long enough to have regrets."
I mean, how can we learn a thing pretending to be fully formed all the time? Failure is the teacher. Denial brings the catastrophe.
Well said. I always feel better after reading your essays. My mother died 6 years ago and I was alone with her in her final days. She passed peacefully and smiled often those last weeks. She died April 1st 2016. I’m sad often though, not from mourning her so much anymore but from the sorrow of my uncontrollable bad behavior towards her in my youth...by which I mean into my 40’s. I’m so happy she forgave me and knew , of her four children , I would stay by her side through her years of cancer.
Gorgeous. Thank you. I freaking hate when people comment on an essay with a link to their own essay, but I am physically unable to restrain myself. Doubtless I will be embarrassed by all this soon enough.
This piece is wonderful! It brought back memories of adventures that made me smile and wince at the same time. At 71 years of age, there are a lot of those!
Never get rid of those letters. Future you needs them for further self-excavation.