Lao Tzu! Wait Up! by
(166 Stories)

Prompted By Regrets

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I spend time inundated by regret. I spend = and opposite time beset by anticipatory dread, a phrase taught me by JE.

I am happy to be free of JE. I sadly miss JE.

Freedom. Loss.

Regret for the past, dread for the future.

But wait! I can be here now.


No regrets. No dread. How Zen!

Me + Lao Tzu.

Be here now allows for a do-nothing sit. Enjoy peace, comfort, simplicity.

But wait! Regret ≠ Dread.

I learn from past regrets. I only imagine the future.

Damn. Back to the drawing board.

Lao Tzu! Wait up!

Profile photo of Charles Degelman Charles Degelman
Writer, editor, and educator based in Los Angeles. He's also played a lot of music. Degelman teaches writing at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Degelman lives in the hills of Hollywood with his companion on the road of life, four cats, assorted dogs, and a coterie of communard brothers and sisters.

Visit Author's Website

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Marian says:

    As a fellow traveler on the wave between regret and anticipatory dread, I could feel exactly where you are, Charles. Can Lao Tzu wait for me, too?

  2. Suzy says:

    You’re right that regret does not equal dread, but certainly it can cause dread of doing things that will be regretted later. Maybe that’s your point. Can we accomplish “be here now”? I hope so.

  3. susanrubin says:

    I love the tone, the smarts, the humor.

  4. Susan Bennet says:

    I’ve always had a bad time with equations, Charles, but yours are delightful!

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    Be here now sounds good, but what we are now is made up of how we got where we are, and what we are now affects our future. So good luck 🍀 to us all.

    • Ah, the fruits of logic, Khati! In the same way that e=MC2, we’re dancing between luck and a hard place, clowns to the left, jokers to the right, we’re on the road again between regrets and anticipatory dread. Ain’t life grand?

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Wow, that was very Zen, Charles. I had to think about it for it a while. Can we time travel between past regrets and future dread? They are not the same but perhaps linked in our psyche? You generated so many interesting comments too. Smart writers here. Such a pleasure to be along for the ride.

  7. Laurie Levy says:

    I love the notion of anticipatory dread., but I hate admitting that I devote far to much energy to it. I guess that’s a regret. Since only a few of the things I dread actually turn out to be as awful as I anticipate, it would be much better to spend more of my energy on the here and now. Thanks for your thought provoking piece of writing.

    • Thanks, Laurie. Yeah, anticipatory dread is a good ‘regret’ to practice on. I try to remember what/how I dread people, events, whatever after the fact and ‘teach’ myself to realize said anticipation didn’t turn out so bad in reality. The teaching rarely sticks. I’m constantly going back to ‘breathe in…breathe out.’

  8. Anticipatory dread Charles?
    You mean, Start worrying, details to follow?
    Hitch me a ride with Lao Tzu!

    • You certainly have the right idea, Dana, although it may be simpler to maintain a modicum of constant worry. That way you don’t have to jump start the dread. For example, I would worry about hitching a ride with ol’ Lao. He’s one of those gurus who considers interaction part of the search for wisdom. For example, I believe he coined that timeless koan involving fossil fuel, marijuana, a person’s derriere, and access to transportation. Om.

  9. I’m with Einstein when it comes to the illusion of time, but it’s making my brain hurt to think about it in terms of past regrets and anticipatory dread. Thankfully, someone else did…dig it:

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Interesting article/experiment, Barb. Really explains the whole scenario, though in a very brutal way, but useful if it can help alleviate PTSD.

      • It was interesting but didn’t actually address my conundrum. If time is an illusion, merely a construct of the mind (as theorized by Einstein), how does that play into our feelings about the past and the future? It boggles the mind…but is something Charles could undoubtedly riff on.

        • Einstein’s time is, to me, as far away from our world as the other side of a black hole’s event horizon. It doesn’t really apply. For example, Albert liked cats and Mozart and was a political activist. Even the examples he uses to illustrate relativity are concrete — trains moving in relation to each other and to a stationary [sic] station. So, unless you want to use relativity to obscure past and present, regret and anticipation, it’s probably easier to stick to chronology. But I haven’t gotten to the Scientific American article yet!!!

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