My only big regret in life is that I didn’t take the time to document my experiences more. I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was 16, which is admiral, but I wish I had expanded my entries to snippets of sensory experience and fascinations other than just emotional spew. But, in my defense, I was a teenager and I avoided language arts classes finding them tedious.
Looking back even recording one thing that made my day would have been such a precious collection to look back on. No one told me then that those little vignettes from my life in Alaska, raising my son, and those hilarious “kids say the darndest things” moments teaching 6th-grade science would be so longed for. Of course, I have hundreds of photos but without some words as accompaniment, they are incomplete memories. I was always too busy, thinking I would remember everything. Then “poof” those clear memories vanish like steam. The same goes with some solution to a nagging problem or those creative inspirations I get as I drift off to sleep.
Now retired, and a writer despite my past, I have notebooks and pens all over the place. When that little voice whispers to me “you should really write this down,” I listen, pull over the car, stop walking, or turn the lights back on after I’ve gone to bed to write it down. If nothing else I will record a voice memo on my phone. I’ve never regretted doing so just as I’ve never been able to retrieve an idea I’ve had right before drifting off to sleep.
Inspirations are slippery. When you get one hold tight and don’t let go. They are almost impossible to retrieve. Writing is the anchor.
A Poet’s Lament
Slippery as a thrashing fish on the end of a taught line
my idea I foolishly thought I had a firm grip on
slithered away down into the deep recesses of my mind
It rose during some insignificant task
a brilliant, shiny poem that would curry accolades
mine for the taking
but I, overconfident in my abilities
failed to hook it properly with my pen
the line went slack
leaving me empty handed
with only this sad story
“you should have seen
the one that got away”