Thursday, August 23, 2007

Regrets, I've had a few, but then again...

Got into an interesting conversation at lunch today.

A good friend, whom I'll call the Rat, pointed out that an overlying theme runs throughout much of my writing --- regret. He peppered me with questions, wanting to know who this woman is I admired years ago and never told.

I dodged his inquiry for a minute. Then he gave me some fatherly advice:

"Don't get to be an old man and have any regrets."

Good words. Good words indeed.

I've changed some over the years. Time was, I would often be ruled by my fears, a prisoner to my own insecurity. Better to sit it out than join the dance and fall flat on your ass.

I left that thinking behind me somewhere between "Burning Love" and figuring out that life is a hell of a lot easier when you don't give a damn about what others think.

My friend was right. There was a girl (two of them actually) that I dearly adored once. I kept those thoughts to myself for a long time. That's a mistake I'm proud to say I haven't repeated.

Lost love, if that's the word for it, is something that piques my curiosity as a writer. I've been working on a novel for years that plays around with that theme. Missed opportunities is another favorite theme, as are endings, the passing of eras, lost moments in time. I think that's why I love Larry McMurtry, "Lonesome Dove" and "The Last Picture Show."

I don't really believe in reincarnation. But I sometimes wonder. I've felt for years I was born about 40 years too late.

Then again, no. I like my nostalgia, but I love today's technology. Given my medical background, I also appreciate the fact that doctors can remove my frequent kidney stones when I need the help.

That being said, I'm very much a black-and-white guy adrift in a Technicolor world. It's who I am. I won't apologize for it.

I'm a "three downs and a cloud of dust," defensive-loving football fan in the age of the fun and gun. Give me a pitcher's duel over a home run derby any day. I guess I'm the only person in America that still thinks college basketball would be more fun without the shot clock.

I've moved into the 21st century --- a little bit. Westerns and baseball still top my list of favorite things, but RobinElla passed Elvis and Sinatra as my favorite singer some time ago.

Most of my favorite TV series were canceled before I was born. Mayberry could have been my adopted hometown. But I've grown to adore "The Simpsons" and am enthralled with the now-canceled "West Wing" and a few of the shows on HBO.

"Friday Night Lights" was a pleasant surprise last fall. And even though I don't think the new "Bionic Woman" will be anywhere near as good as Lee Majors' and Lindsay Waggoner's old shows, I'll TiVo it anyway.

Hemingway is still my favorite writer. Don't guess that will ever change.

My heart is still with the old black-and-white movies. But my head tells me that some fine pictures are churned out of Hollywood each year. My favorites still tend to be the quiet, character-driven stories.

John Majors and Bear Bryant will always be my favorite football generals. Sorry, but a suit, tie and houndstooth hat will always look better pacing that sideline than a warm up suit and a slouchy baseball cap. Sometimes when the weather is cool, I'll dig out my Big Orange suit and hat and wear it to Shields-Watkins Field.

Anyway, I've drifted out of topic here. What was I trying to say?

I think it's this: Live your life. Do whatever you darn well please, especially if it's right and it makes you happy. Give in to peer pressure or popular sentiment and you'll regret it every time.

Saturday I'll be singing with two co-workers at the Halls Has It Festival in Black Oak Plaza at 11. It will be my first "professional" appearance in nearly a decade. I'm not going to score a record contract with RCA, but you'll be able to recognize me. I'll be the guy with an ear-to-ear grin on my face.

Find what you love and go do it. I'm one of the lucky ones. I found my calling early on and get paid to do it.

I hurt like hell and wish the stones would go away. But when you're doing what you love and loving what you do, the pain doesn't seem so bad.

Regrets? Yeah, I've had a few.

But, like the song says, they're too few to mention. Can't change them anyway.

I can promise you, though, I won't have many more.

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