How far do you go back?
Before I was a woman, before I felt autonomous, before I was a mother, before I was a wife, before I knew, before I understood, before I could, before I knew I should, before when I thought I was loved, before I knew I was loved?
I don’t know about you but regrets seem to come with a sense of responsibility and capability. If I look back I can only do it through the eyes of the person I am now. If I revisit places I feel I have fallen short, the ones where I have real regrets, I do it with a sense of what I could do, that is delineated by what I WOULD do now.
The fact is that I am a different person now. I have been through the fire. I have lost my hair, my jewels, my skin. I have been flayed and had my skin hung up on a peg.
I am Inanna.
I have been through the seven gates of hell. I have been reclaimed by my sister, the Mistress of hell. I have gathered the pieces of my lover brother husband’s penis and given them back to him so he can impregnate me and so the world can turn again.
The fact that this imagery comes from the oldest story in history tells me that my story is not unique. It is part of what happens to humans, to women, to powerful women, as they journey through life.
Lot’s wife was instructed not to look back as her family fled Sodom and Gommorah, her daughters had been ravished there and they had a window of escape and the opportunity of new life.
Right there, right then.
I can imagine her thought process as they fled, taking only what they could carry … are they following, will they do it again, are we safe, are they safe, what was their father doing, was he involved, no, don’t think that, look ahead, but what kind of life will they have now, are they following? I’ll just loo…. And there she was, locked in that place, in that moment, forever.
Thing is, we want to look back. It seems so reasonable; learn from our mistakes, make ourselves safe, never make the same mistakes again. But, in the end. We face every moment as if it is a new one, with our new selves. We cannot safeguard ourselves from regret without simultaneously not living in the moment. Living means risk. We might die.
News just in, we will, and we probably will die many times before we actually do. Is that so bad?
I don’t know about you, I mean, I really don’t know about you, but I know what we share. We share the idea that we can protect against mistakes by looking back. What if we can’t? What if we actually shouldn’t?
I want to posit something new, something scary, something revolutionary. Instead of regretting, perhaps all we can do is be really present in the moment with all our glorious flawed majesty and breathe. Breathe really deeply and be really there.
Because looking back turns us to stone, and there is probably a narrative bigger and older than us that we are a part of without knowing.
Because there is no right answer, just a series of possibilities.
Because you are glorious, and flawed, and magnificent, and so am I.