Regret and Neglect

“- Waste and horror – what I might have been and done that is lost, spent, gone, dissipated, unrecapturable. I could have acted thus, refrained from this, been bold where I was timid, cautious where I was rash.
I need not have hurt her like that.
Nor said this to him.
Nor broken myself trying to break what was unbreakable.
The horror has come now like a storm – what if this night prefigured the night after death – what if all thereafter was an eternal quivering on the edge of an abyss, with everything base and vicious in oneself urging one forward and the baseness and viciousness of the world just ahead. No choice, no road, no hope – only the endless repitition of the sordid and the semi-tragic. or to stand forever, perhaps, on the threshold of life unable to pass it and return to it. I am a ghost now as the clock strikes four.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Sleeping and Waking,” from The Crack-Up.

This passage has stayed with me, and of late, that list of “need nots” has come to include neglected things – unanswered letters, unread books, unimplemented plans. Places where something has been asked of me, however oddly or casually, and I have failed to respond because I am looking up my own ladder, fretting over my own requests. So there’s that.


  1. Cubeland Mystic says

    What are you getting at here? It is not really clear. Let’s work through this a little bit. What is wrong with “fretting over my own requests”?

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