Tag Archives: regrets

In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself

 I have always liked this poem by poet Wislawa Szymborska.

In feeling bad1

Wisława Szymborska-Włodek (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, and translator.  She was described as a “Mozart of Poetry.”  She was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.”

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In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself

By Wislawa Szymborska

The buzzard never says it is to blame.

The panther wouldn’t know what scruples mean.

When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame.

If snakes had hands, they’d claim their hands were clean.


A jackal doesn’t understand remorse.

Lions and lice don’t waver in their course.

Why should they, when they know they’re right?

Though hearts of killer whales may weigh a ton,

In every other way they’re light.


On this third planet of the sun

Among the signs of bestiality

A clear conscience is Number One.

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Preferring regret to bestiality, I will accept the moments that my conscience is not always clear and that it is okay, from time to time, to feel bad about yourself.

[As long as you don’t make a habit of it.]

This WILL Happen to You

Death and taxes (in some form or another) are inevitable.  But I am writing about the one other inevitable event that will happen in the life of each and every one of you.

There exists, right now, an item that you have been meaning to rid yourself of for some time.  No, it has to be inanimate.  You can’t count your spouse, the overgrown teenager living forever in the spare bedroom, Betsy the dog or grandpa.  It’s inanimate but something to which you attach value – dollar value, sentimental value or business value – that gnaws at your psyche because you haven’t done anything about it and for which you know something needs to be done.

It can be an old car that, given enough time (like a half-century), will become an antique.  Same thing with that old coffee table that you got from a family member or at a yard sale that does nothing but collect dust and gives you a nasty bruise in the shins when you rap against it after going down the steps into the basement.  Or it could be that box of old accounts at work that your previous boss (or you) couldn’t throw out because someday, somehow the accounting department will want to do research on it.  That item exists and you know exactly the item I am talking about.

And, finally, the day comes.  Today, and I really, really mean it, I will 1) donate that old clunker to charity; 2) put that coffee table out for the trash or 3) dispose of that box of useless accounts.  You steel yourself up for the event, pick up your courage and DO IT.  Done!  Forever! Gone!  Thank God it’s over!

Within a week of THE EVENT, the following happens: 1) Hey, whatever happened to your old junk of a car?  Do you know that there is a collector paying TOP DOLLAR for one of those cars regardless of its condition?  The guy is nuts but I just made a killing selling him mine.  You can, too.  2) What happened to that old coffee table in the basement?  I keep Grandma’s priceless brooch hidden in the drawer and now the table is not there.  The whole family would be heartbroken if something happened to that brooch.  3) Boy, it’s a good thing that you held onto the Amalgamated Company records.  We’re being audited and without those records we are up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Now it may not be a car, a coffee table or a box of old accounting records.  Whatever it is, you are going to make a decision about it and regret it almost instantly.

Death.  Taxes.  The item.  Yes, it will happen to you.

Have a nice day.