Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Carpe Diem


It’s raining.  A lot.  We had flooding over the weekend, so this new deluge probably will bring trouble in various places around town.  Still, I love rainy days.  I get all introspective and shit, which, at my advanced age, is a way of being that I tend to enjoy.

Last night, we watched a movie on NetFlix, Handsome Harry.  It’s the story of a guy—Harry—who, while in the Navy in the 1970's, falls in love with another sailor.  David, the sailor with whom Harry falls in love, is gay and totally self–accepting.  Harry is a mess of fear and self–hatred.  There is a good bit of story involved, but the crux of the movie is that Harry, 30 years after falling in love with David, has married, had a son, and divorced.  He still loves David, though.

The death of a mutual Navy buddy brings Harry and David together.  Harry, it was obvious to me, wants to pick up where he and David left off 30 years before.  David has reservations about that, although he still has feelings for Harry.

I’ve been thinking about this movie all morning.  Obviously, the story resonates with me because I was a lot like Harry.  But on a more general plane, the story makes me think about people and opportunities throughout my life.  Some of the people and opportunities I embraced; many I didn’t.  The ones that I let pass me by are the ones I think about most often, generally with regret.

A handsome, fit pool boy in Dallas, who was studying medicine at the University of Texas, was interested in me, God knows why.  A pianist in D.C. with whom I made background music for an art exhibit wanted to “go someplace private.”  A lady called once and offered me a great job in Newport, Rhode Island.  A sweet Baptist Navy chaplain went out of his way to try to be friends with me.  A friend from work invited me on a cross-country car trip back in the early 1970's.

All of these, and so many others, were opportunities that I rejected out of fear or laziness or feelings of low self worth.  All of these are missed opportunities that I now regret having missed.

Renée, a lesbian buddy, says that she wants to end her days sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of a cabin in the North Carolina mountains regretting all the wild and nasty things she did, not regretting all the wild and nasty things she decided not to do.  I get her point.

I have said “yes” to enough of life’s goodies to be happy on the whole with my life.  I have said “no” to enough of those goodies, however, that some days I am filled with regret.  Like Harry in the movie last night, I have been offered some once–in–a–lifetime gifts that I have turned down.

I urge my daughters to be more open to the goodness of life, always to expect surprises just around the bend.  That’s what makes up our lives—surprises just around the bend.  I hope that each of them will say “yes” to all the once–in–a–lifetime gifts that come their way.

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