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What Escapes Us

“Our life is also what we have not dared to do … what escaped us.” — Javier Marias

Javier Marias passed away on September 11th, triggering a series of tributes to a productive literary life. This quote stood out for me, for all the reasons you might expect from this particular blogger. If there’s a theme woven throughout, it’s Stoic: Memento Mori, Amor Fati, Carpe diem.

Life is a series of leaps forward from one identity to the next as we cross the chasm of our brief time, yet some bits of our stardust are never fully changed, other paths remain untaken. And we think sometimes about where it might have carried us. What might have been.

Does that read as regret? It’s not meant to be so. Life is full of choices good and poor. We celebrate where we’ve arrived at either way. Regret is a useless emotion best reserved for the instant you realize you’ve driven off the cliff or studied the wrong material for the exam. Otherwise it’s distraction from the path forward. We all ought to accept the guidance of previous decisions without living in the past.

We know what we said yes to, because it brought us here. We must also accept what we say no to in our lives. We ought to celebrate the omissions for where they brought us. For these things are as much a part of who we become as the things we do choose. Every no is a yes to something else. Each decision carries us, transforms us, and we dance with the music we’re left with. Mostly it’s a real toe tapper.

Do remember though, as we dance with where we’ve arrived at, that daring is always on the table.

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