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This diary was evoked by a New York Times article entitled The New Year’s Cocktail: Regret With a Dash of Bitters

Perhaps this has the most meaning for us older folks, those whose life is mostly behind us, and the new year is another time for taking stock of what we have done, and failed to do.  But, those in their prime, or even on the threshold of full adulthood, are looking at the same issue, even if from the other side of the the path of life.

But this is a political blog, so what is all of this psychological introspection stuff?  Tip O'Neill's truism "All Politics is Local" is usually thought of as applying to the precinct level, but it is more local than that, politics comes right from the center of our hearts, our minds, our souls.  

And those of us who write on this site, who read the diaries and comment, who get incensed at times at the obstinate stupidity of others, and delighted when we find a kindred intelligent soul are being driven by more than what party will be in office, or what candidate will win the nomination.  We are motivated by our own hurts, fears, and yes, regrets.

This diary is not about politics.  No discussion of the strengths or weaknesses of the Democratic contenders.  This is a diary for sharing, for giving something to those who find the passing of a year bringing thoughts that are difficult, maybe even painful.

"What we all could have done had we made a different decision at a pivotal time in our lives"  For me, and I suspect for most of us on Dailykos, the one candidate who is missing from the slate with the wisdom, strength of character, and personal courage to change this country know who.  It is the reader, and in my case, the writer of these words.  

But somewhere along the line we didn't make the choices. What was it, run for the the Student Council in Jr. High School.  Or maybe finish college, or go to law school, or go into politics after getting that law degree. Or we raised a family too soon, too late, or not at all.  Or we became too rich and decadent; or never made enough to think about more than survival.  But somehow, each in our own way, we are on the sidelines.  We never got into the position to be heard, to change the country, to perfect our society.

Most of us on Dailykos, according to surveys over the years, do not have much faith in an afterlife, where all of the shortcomings of this existence will be replaced by eternal bliss.  And while we know what we don't like, Republicans and weak kneed Democrats, we don't even have the satisfaction of believing in a secular ideological utopia that will bring a revolution that will change the world.

While the article cited discusses regret in general, it is more painful for me, and perhaps for many on this site, as I look at who has risen to the top of the list of candidates for our party, not to mention the other party.  Oh, how I wish I could find one of them to revere, to admire, to have confidence in.  

So, there is no pleasure, no escape in doing Dailykos for me any more.  Not this season, not as we look at real people, one of whom will have such power to influence our country, our world. George W. Bush made it all so easy.  He was the common enemy that united us all.

Soon, he will be gone.  We will have to look elsewhere for a focus for anger. Is it the rich, those who control corporations. Is it wall street investment bankers-uhh, like Rubin and Corzone.  Hmm, I think they are leaders of our party.

No.  That delightful class warfare is of another era, when our spiritual ancestors marched in the street under the strains of "The Internationale"

Arise, the wretched of the earth,
Arise, prisoners of hunger,
Reason thunders in its crater,
It is the eruption of the end!
Let's make a blank slate of the past,
Crowds, slaves, arise, arise!
The world is going to change from its base,
We are nothing, let's be everything!
|: This is the final struggle
 Let us gather, and tomorrow
 The Internationale
 Will be mankind! :|

We are all capitalists now. Whether it is a few grand in a 401K or much much more socked away in Hedge Funds. There is no revolutionary fervor to focus our hope, our rage.

And the war in Iraq is missing a key element that had been a part of previous wars. No American is at risk except those who want to play the game.  It is an adventure activity of those who enjoy the risk. The ultimate triple diamond ski run, speeding down the winding road at a hundred miles an hour, being part of the meanest toughest gang the world has ever seen.  

Catch the latest TV ad for recruiting for the Army. It boils down to "how else are you going to drive a 2000 horse power vehicle with rocket launchers and the latest in communication gear."   And it is all payed for by the American people.  And after you play the game, if you live, you are called heroes, with the word "brave" forever annexed to your name. That is until you are forgotten, and get to live under a bridge asking the passing drivers for some spare change for a meal.

Regret. Personal regret. Dailykos helps to make it go away, because we can hope that we are changing things.  We can hope that if we get our Party, especially if we get just the right person in office, we will make it all better.  There is no need for regret if it all turns out right.  And it certainly will, if only my guy/gal is nominated and wins the election.

Do we hope, or do we pretend. Or we playing politics like the soldiers in Iraq are playing war.  I don't know.  I'm sometimes inspired by this group to do more, to actually go to the city council, to speak up, to make some changes.  Is it enough?  Is it anything?

There is much to think about on this first day of the new year.  I thank all of those who have read my diaries over the last year, and especially those who have shared their comments.

Originally posted to ARODB on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 05:59 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  dont know (10+ / 0-)

    im not sure regret really helps anything. sure we could all make better choices, but we do the best we can at the time with the information and emotional state that we have , or are in. More important is to learn from our mistakes, and try to move forward, in a positive direction. he or she that lives in the regrets of the past does not have time to experience the joys of today.

    not that that is easy to live by...

    Welcome to the empire. life is not a dress rehearsal My record label:

    by johnfire on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 06:07:31 PM PST

  •  Regret?! (6+ / 0-)

    I could be a nose-picking right wing war whooper lurking around Clown Hall or Freeperville!

    I sure am glad I am a Kossack, a left leaning Democrat with Syndicalist tendencies tinged with a dab of Socialism!

    Otherwise known as an American who has traveled to Europe, and Canada, and came away impressed.

    Today, 1/1/08, 3903 Americans, and untold Iraqis are dead, tens of thousands more maimed. Bush lied and the troops are dying.

    by boilerman10 on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 06:13:35 PM PST

    •  good point (0+ / 0-)

      I cannot imagine going thru life as a selfish piggy republican. at some moment, maybe at the very end it must dawn on a few of them how sadly superficial and empty most of their lives are....

      Welcome to the empire. life is not a dress rehearsal My record label:

      by johnfire on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 06:45:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You don't ever have to regret caring! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vickie feminist, marykk

    One can always do more: strive.

    One could also, of course, always do less.

    Regret can be good for reflection, but it can lead to paralysis.

    Most of us live the balance of our lives with politics being a greater or lesser portion of that balance. The involvement comes and goes.

    I agree that this site will be very different after GB II is done with his two terms. At that point it will be up to each of us to bring our own passions to the debate and try to find allies for the future.

    It might involve people currently on the scene. It might even inspire or enable one or more of us to get in the scene. We never know who is reading our words, after all.

    The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth: the wicked compass about the righteous and wrong judgment proceedeth - Habakkuk 1:4

    by vox humana on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 06:21:15 PM PST

  •  I would not change anything (5+ / 0-)

    because then things I value now might not be part of my life.

    Have I made mistakes?  More than the few in the song.   Many more.   And hopefully I have learned from them, including mistakes in previous relationships.   But I think of those - had I not made them, then perhaps I would never have encountered Leaves on the Current and my life would surely be different, and I suspect poorer.

    I have never been one even in my explicit deistic days to think that God had a specific plan.  I used to posit that a loving God would take what we did with our freedom and present us with still more opportunities.

    In Quaker terminology there is the expression of "way opening" - one one is struggling to figure out what to do next sometimes in meditation, with guidance from others, a path might become clear.   Parker Palmer writes that once he was struggling with some decision and consulted a very wise older Quaker woman.   After some typical Quaker silence, she told him that she had never experienced "way opening."  Palmer writes that he felt his heart sink, because if she had not, what hope was there for him?  But her next words cleared things up:  she had experienced "way closing" which accomplished very much the same thing.   That is, because one path is clearly closed, the choices from which one has to select become less diffused, and it becomes more possible to examine clearly and exercise one's freedom.

    Regrets?  I have had MORE THAN a few.   But I ask for no mulligans in life.   As one of the older denizens of this site, on the down side of my 62nd year, whiole I will look back to understand and sometimes even to cherish the very foolish boy and young man I was, time is now too precious.  I would rather continue to experience what yet might be.


    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 06:21:34 PM PST

    •  Thank you, teacherken (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      A new concept to think about -- "way closing."

      I regret that I stopped going to meeting because of morning sickness, and now because of my beautiful new daughter. You're making me think it's time to start going again.

      Happy new year, teacherken. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

      IGTNT: Our war dead. Their stories. Read "I Got the News Today."

      by monkeybiz on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 06:29:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Regrets, I've had a few... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vickie feminist, 1864 House

    but there's something, I don't know, sort of arrogant about regret that just doesn't sit well with me. None of us has any way of knowing where our movements and choices have gone and what they've done or caused or ignited after they've left us. And we have no idea what we'll crash into tomorrow.

    But somehow, each in our own way, we are on the sidelines.  We never got into the position to be heard, to change the country, to perfect our society.

    Was Rosa Parks on the sidelines, not in a position to change the country? How about her parents and grandparents? It just doesn't make sense to me, isolationist regret.

    Then again, maybe I just don't dare start with all the regretting...

  •  My regret (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vickie feminist not getting my Ph. D. in Math in order to actively pursue that as a career. You know, as in trying to get tenure and stuff.

    This is something I should have done in my 20s when I had the chance. Problem is, ten years ago I let myself get talked out of it. Now I'm 34 and I'm kinda stuck. See, a doctorate in math requires five years of work where I'm earning nothing. Then after that, it's a whole new grind trying to find a tenure track position (essentially starting a new career).

    That's my first choice. My second choice is to try getting back into math after I retire. My third choice is to take a year or so and find something else that I love that much.

    So yeah -- my life's work betrayed by cowardice. How fucked up is that? At least I've learned my lesson from this: that taking the safe route never pays.

    •  basic economic maxim (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vickie feminist

      reward is dependent on risk. you have to take good risks in order to get rewards....

      Welcome to the empire. life is not a dress rehearsal My record label:

      by johnfire on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 06:46:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  look for other doors (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know the "math world" but there are probably other ways you can get pieces of what you want.  Talk to people using math in their work--everybody likes to talk about themselves--you simply call up and say "I'm very interested in working in your field, could I buy you a cup of coffee and pick your brains for a few minutes?"

      Get in conctact with math folks at universities and network with them--they may know about jobs that don't require a PhD.  What about teaching high school first?

      Let people help you find the open doors (the metaphor of the evening.)

      Good luck,

    •  maxomai (0+ / 0-)

      34 is not too old to start for a doctoral degree. Thats when I started mine. I know several PhD physics students who did not start their work till they were in their 40's.

      Also consider going to a university outside the US where a doctoral degree takes 3 to 4 years as in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. There are scholarships for this and as I recall there is no tuition for universities in some European countries like Germany and Sweden. One of course still has to pay living expenses. At least in Sweden and the Netherlands, I know a thesis can be written in English.

      Vickie Feminist has good advice for approaching methematicians for advice. I can say that because that approach has worked on me. It is very gratifying to the ego for someone, especially a stranger or near-stranger,  to think that you might have information that not only could help them, but possibly change their life.

      H.L. Mencken: "A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves"

      by igneous on Thu Jan 03, 2008 at 03:18:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am in the older category.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I spent 25 years as an elected official--legislator, regulatory Commissioner, all around activist.   And more years than that as an ativist and a party war horse.   Now at 56 I am on the sidelines and mostly just feed my political interest vicariously through this and other blogs.  I started out as a liberal's liberal and am at a stage where I am even more liberal.  My life of protest spans from LBJ/Vietnam to Iraq/Bush.    As important as I have always belieed politics are I must say I wonder about it now.   Marriane Williamson in her book A Return to Love said she woke uu one day and found she was hating those she accused of hatred and questioned it all.   I am at that place--- really questioning whether political action is the answer or the problem.   I participated in a World Peace Meditation last night and it ended with us singing "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me".  Maybe the answer is I should have worked on me instead of the world.   I thought as one got older I would know more answers, yet I find it just the opposite there are just more and more questions.   I can't give up politics.  I like all of our candidates.   Edwards says what I believe in and I believe Hilary is the poitical operative who can be most successful.  But I am supporting a candidate who I believe has flaws -- Obama-- because I think he has what this country needs most--someone whi can inspire us and call us to be something greater than we think we are.  And becuase I think it is absilutely a giant step forward in one of the most least talked about issues in America--racial issues.  Anyway my intention this year is to help a few Democratic candidates and be a student of "A Course in Miracles" in believing Ghandi was right when he said "we had to be the change we wished to see in the world."    Peace be with you, my friends. Danny

  •  I regret not having had the courage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to drop out of college when I was 20 and my parents were refusing to pay for anything that wasn't engineering or business. I had everything toted up that I could resell and move to SF from MI and just... do something on my own, some kind of art.

    Everything since has turned out more or less fine, but I'm stuck in the middle class and probably could have participated more than observed had I just ditched things and started over.

  •  When I was age 20.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....I regret my decision to go to the UM School of Education as a physics and math teaching major after flunking out of language requirements when I was really interested in being a physicist.....and then not going to the University of Michigan School of Engineering to be a civil and chemical that I'm 57.

    At the time, I was not optimistic about corporate roles for engineers in the middle of the ferment of the 60's and 70's.

  •  A common regret. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I dearly regret not spending more time with my three children as they were growing up. My long-suffering wife served effectively as a single parent while I worked 100 hours a week as a resident and young attending physician. Despite my evident neglect, they have all turned out to be compassionate, bright and relentlessly logical young people, all a credit to my wife's perpetual effort. I have a wonderful relationship with all of them, something I clearly didn't deserve. And without prompting from us, all three of them despise George W. Bush!

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