David Brooks of the New York Times recently ran a column in which he requested a life report or a kind of accounting of a person’s life. In his column, he mentioned a variety of people, many of whom who had had regrets about their own lives. Of the people who regretted their lives, many of them were people who felt stuck in dead-end jobs their entire lives or who hadn’t taken the risks they felt like they should have.
In part, here is a bit of my letter to the New York Times giving an accounting of my own life.
I don’t know if a life report should be quarterly, annually, or decennially, if at all.
The bottom line matters, as do the experiences. And, I don’t regret most of my experiences.
In chronological order, I have:
- Worked at Taco Bell where my boss told me that women shouldn’t be attorneys. (I’m not an attorney, but his comments should be noted to reflect the change in times.)
- Worked for a congressman who actually had (and still has) integrity.
- Watched the travelers at the airport and wished that I could fly abroad.
- Taught English in Korea and lived in a classroom in the institute where I taught without pay for my first six months.
- Built a small bungalow (bahn) on a rural, Muslim island in Thailand, but not with my bare hands.
- Invested in a bungalow resort in Thailand. The first year the resort opened was the year of the Tsunami. The resort is beautiful, yet still has not made a profit.
- Taught English to Koreans in Ulleung-do Korea while sitting in a dark corner of my bedroom in Seattle.
- Started a freelance writing career.
- Parted ways with my husband of almost twelve years.
My biggest regret is investing in the bungalow resort. It is a truly beautiful piece of property, but I don’t know if I’ll ever see any kind of return on my investment. Somehow, I don’t think that whatever scheme Obama comes up with to help beleaguered home owners will help those few of us who chose to buy our vacation properties before our first homes.
I don’t regret marrying my husband even though we have gone our separate ways. When we were married, it was for love and we had many good years together. I don’t regret trying my hand at teaching in Korea despite the fact that my first job there was so horrendous. Eventually, I got hired on at two different universities and co-authored two text books.
I still have hopes and dreams, but I’m keeping them close to my heart so no one steals them.