Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin, is a very interesting and curious book with a play within a novel. The frontispiece has a quote that comes from the fictional unpublished play.
…Do not shrink if on your path
You meet a solitary ghost,
Ask it, “What did you love most?
And what have you left undone?”
Prologue to Suzanne Ravenel’s 1931 school play, THE RED NUN
Surprisingly, the quote left an even greater impression on me than the novel itself, although it was a very good read. I began to make a list of what I’ve loved and what I’ve left undone.
What I have loved most:
• Being a military wife [helped that I had a good military husband!]
• The two boys and a girl that grew up in my house – and the other family members they eventually added
• Friends – as the adage goes – the golden oldies and the silver newbies
• The companions the two boys and a girl brought home for snacks or supper
• Teaching in school and at church
What I’ve left undone:
• Becoming a nurse
• Picking up Anna at the dentist when she was in sixth grade [On a military base, she had an easy walk to get there after school and to get home when her appointment was finished. I was supposed to meet her and get the dentist’s report, but I forgot and went home instead. She reminds me of this failure from time to time when it suits her purposes.]
• Climbing Mt. Everest
• Learning to swim
Of course, the lists could go on indefinitely. To tell the truth, the only thing I regret from this undone list is not picking Anna up from the dentist.
I don’t really make resolutions as the new year begins, but I do tend to evaluate where I’ve been and where I’m going. Since there are only seven days in a week with only twenty-four hours per day, I think I’ll use the thought from this question in 2012 to weigh its opportunities so I can omit things I would not miss if I left them undone and focus on those I love most.