01/28/2013 03:17 pm ET Updated Mar 30, 2013

Two Words

I don't miss people. There, I said it. I used to think I was a mutant. Now I understand. I simply carry people in my heart in a way that allows me to love deeply, even in their absence.

The people I do miss, (if inclined) are people who I enjoy missing. Seriously, their absence has made my life more pleasant.

Okay, I am on a roll. I confess, I also don't have regrets. I used to wonder why. I know now it's because I see everything as an opportunity for growth, growth that is not limited to victories -- that would be too easy. Growth that is also fed by the failures and losses of life as much as its successes. Energy wasted on regrets or a missed opportunity is what I call "life waste."

If I miss a train, it was not my train. If I don't get a job, it was not my job. If a client decides to go with someone else, it's not my client. If a man is unavailable (whatever the reason), he does not get my attention, ergo he is not my man. Do you follow me?

I checked. Life moves in one direction... forward. Looking back makes no sense. I am not going that way.

We often get stuck with the paralysis of looking back, while hindering the possibility of moving forward. Our emotions invite us into rooms that inspire us or trap us. Thoughts play inside our mental movie theaters, as we envision stories of triumph and truth or limitations and lies. We decide which ticket to buy. We may take a few friends as we "vent" down memory lane. As if on cue, complete with laugh tracks, they commiserate with us... but the only thing moving is our lips.

Listen, I pledge allegiance to move forward but I promise to savor life. When you don't learn life lessons, they tend to repeat themselves with different people in new circumstances. Rather than repetition, I have given my lessons memorable titles: "Problems are opportunities," "Death is graduation," "The unknown excites me." I could go on... but this is more than Pollyanna's glad game. It is the balance between the movement of life and moments of life.

Savoring the sorrow of life could seem antithetical to moving forward. Yet, I found that embracing sorrow has strengthened my resolve. Rather than drowning in sorrow, I drench myself in sorrow. When I dry out, I reek of joy.

So I had minor surgery this week (although is any surgery ever minor?) I did what I always do -- embrace the moment. As they wheeled me through the hospital, I waved at my imaginary fans. Later, I sang to a crying child also scheduled for an operation. (Yes, she was really there.) This was all before medication. Jokes aside, had I breathed my last, I would have enjoyed each moment along the way. My secret is out.

I learned this from Rainer Marie Rilke in his letter to a young poet. He writes"

Were it were possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches ... perhaps we would bear our "sadnesses" with greater confidence than our joys.

For they are the moments when something new has entered us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the "new", which no one knows, stands in the midst of it is silent ... We are alone with the alien thing, the unfamiliar presence that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. For this reason, the sadness too passes: the new presence inside us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber ...

We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes into which a guest has entered. We can't say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

It takes a particular kind of confident expectation to embrace the sweetness and bitterness of life. When certain mental images start to play or specific emotions offer me hours of reflective distraction, I have learned to hit pause, to freeze the frame and celebrate -- not the "why" of a memory, but the "what." "What did it teach me?" and "What will I do next?"

Oh, I know.

Move forward.

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