To be without regret is to be without desire, is it not? How do you live without desire? How can you live without regret?

I want to say I have no regret. Je ne regret, yet I wonder at the thought. He who says “none, never” is a usually a fool who's yet to be told the terrible truth.

I can think of three women I might have married had I but made one small move at one right moment. Intelligent women who for reasons of their own held the course and expressed their interest, yet I don't regret any of their endings. Why not? Why no regret? I say my life has been lived as I have lived it and the choices I've made have been for good reason, if not right reason. Do I believe life is predestined, that you can't change your destiny? No. I believe you can do that.

What is a regret? Can you save them in a book like postage stamps to be reviewed one by one at your leisure? Some history parade of rights and wrongs, celebrating the one while decrying the other?

Got me.

I've thought about his regret business and wondered if my lack of candidates marked some rather obvious to the point of debilitating lack of ambition. To regret you must want. To want what? Don Juan said that to lose your wanting was a not small achievement, but you had to take the next step and invent them. Do photographs count? A journal?

Do I regret not making love with Marilyn when I was fourteen and ready? That I never made it with Bridget because of my French and the lack of it? Somehow I don't think that's what is meant by regret, although at the time I was ready, with or without Joe's permission. Do I regret L, D, or S? Or K or R? Or X or Y? Or Z? For not marrying one, for not loving another? For meeting? For parting? For breaking my word? For not giving it? For saying hello? For saying goodbye? For telling the truth? For telling a lie? No, though I remember a certain amount of stress, to put it simply.

Regret for doing, regret for not, which worth remembering and putting on paper? The not doing, I suspect. Words not said, acts not taken. Do I regret possession, wealth or power or the lack of them? No. Just when I'm a hypocrite. Given a chance to go back and do things over would I go back, that Microsoft stock, for example? Maybe. If the effort was not great and the afternoon dragging.

So what do I regret this August day, September arriving? This warm summer evening with my cat not leaking? Perhaps the dinner just finished: the microwave, the bubbling plastic, the smell of disaster. I leave you with a realization: I regret what I et. Except for the pudding.

The photograph was taken outside of Oakland City Hall during a noon hour speech by mayor Brown. I don't know who the lady is or if she regrets anything.
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