I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, complaining about laying awake at night worrying about all the things I shouldn’t have said.  The prompt response was ‘you must not get much sleep at all’. That was just plain mean, but since he was an old friend I assume it was meant in good humor.   

This brings me to a topic my sister and I talk about often. We both take after our dad, he had a quick wit and sometimes a sharp tongue. Besides the fact that Marilyn and I tend to talk a lot, as we get older our filters aren’t working as well as they should.  We are inclined to say whatever pops into our heads,  then worry incessantly about it afterword.  There is a lot of lamenting ’I can’t believe I said that, or looking back I should have kept my mouth shut’.  In our younger years we were inclined to use Flip Wilson’s expression the ‘Devil made me say it’.  That has proven to be a thin excuse.   You’d think in our golden years, we’d either learn to keep our mouths shut or at least stop worrying about it.  But in the cold, dark morning hours when there is time for reflection, so many of those things come back to haunt us. 

In those long wakeful hours there is time to replay the tape over and over.    When it is dark and chilly, I don’t go to a happy place and think about all the good times, the fun places and wonderful people.  I go to a dark place befitting of the night and ruminate about the If’s: if I’d just not said that, if I’d just walked away, if I’d been kinder. After time spent worrying about all the If’s, I go with the prayer that the folks I’m worrying about don’t remember what I said or at least I’ve been forgiven for saying it.    

I ran across this encouraging quote the other day from the writer David Foster Wallace, who said

“You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” It’s funny, sure,  but I take a lot of comfort in that quote. 

We fixate so much on our imperfections that we assume everyone else is also judging us. But usually, they’re not. Because they’re too busy worrying about their imperfections. Which means that, by golly, we’re all just trying our best out here.

I ran across this poem the other day and it is so perfect.

If

by Janice Salois

If only if would disappear 

I’d live in the now.

Be present – right here.

If only if did not exist,

I’d quit rewriting the past

With a twist.

If only if would go away,

I’d stop regretting things

I can’t unsay.

If only if would loosen its grip,

I would not make

That future trip.

If only if would just depart,

I’d live each day with an

Open heart.

If only if would leave my ear,

I’d live my life 

Free from fear.

If if and I had never met,

I’d be able to forgive

Then blessedly forget.

If only if would disappear,

I’d live in the now.

Be present- right here! 

Hang in there and sleep tight!

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