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Saturday, December 31, 2005

On Regrets Brunch

This is something very similar about how we treat Halloween (Allhallow’s Eve) and how we treat New Year’s Eve. They are both technically twenty-four hour holidays, but we really only observe the occasion in the evening. I think that we miss out on an opportunity when it comes to New Year’s Eve.

There should be a morning observance on December 31st. It could be called Regrets Brunch. It would be a brunch where we look back on the past year and consider all the choices that we did not make, the roads that we chose not to travel down, the people and places that we chose not to visit during the past year and the opportunities that we decided not to pursue. It would be a time of “all the things that I didn’t do” reflection. It would involve eating a lot of fattening foods. We could have omelettes. What more could one ask for in a holiday observance?

I use the word, regrets, in the broadest possible sense. This would not have to be a morose meal. Although, all choices involve some personal costs, the irrevocable loss of the all the other possible choices, for example. It is also true that the other “choices” we might have made might have really sucked when viewed in hindsight. There is certain wisdom in periodically examining the “what if” and “might have been” in our lives. These “unchosen choices” are the dark matter in our personal universes. They are invisible and unseen, but their hidden mass affects every aspect of our daily lives.

There is a drawing exercise where you arrange a complex still life with a number of objects in it. Then you ask the students to draw one of the central objects by “not” drawing it. Instead, you want them to render the object by meticulously drawing all the objects around it. The object in then presented in “negative” space. A complete picture of the place where the object is not present creates a picture of the chosen object.

Regrets Brunch is about seeing ourselves as the product of the choices that we did not make over the past year. We chose to not murder an in-law. We chose to not buy a humongous SUV and spend our kid’s college fund to put gas in it. We chose to not see any movies with Ben Affleck in them. We chose to not paint our house purple with orange shutters. We chose to not send our children away to an Alaskan military academy. All of the options that we did not select over the course of the entire year define who we truly are on the morning of December 31st. We are as rendered by these negative spaces as much as we are by the broad brushstrokes of our past year’s accomplishments.

Even balanced against the bad options that we chose to pass up, there will still be some sad regrets for the choices that we did make. We all make bad choices, but every bad choice is a kind of personal parable. When the clock finally strikes midnight and we are by tradition obligated to make our New Year’s resolutions, we can remember all the dumb choices that we were really, really sorry about at the Regrets Brunch. Perhaps with those regrets fresh in our minds, our resolutions will actually make it past breakfast on January 2nd.


Blogger Glory said...

This was a truly lovely post. Also very funny. Pass the omelet, please.

3/1/06 4:05 PM  

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