Non, je ne regrette rien

Edith Piaf’s song has always been a favourite of mine. I loved the way it sounded and the crescendo always made me feel the importance of her words despite the fact that I didn’t understand any beyond the title. When I started learning French as an adult one of the first things I did was print off the lyrics and try to translate them. My rudimentary effort went something like this:

No, absolutely nothing

No, I will regret nothing

Neither the good

Nor the bad

They are equal to me

Edith Piaf poorly translated by me.
Listen to the music and, whether you understand the words or not, how does it make you feel?

One thing is patently clear from this exercise – French is a very beautiful language. The reason I bring this up though is to turn our minds towards our own lives and think about how we too, can sweep away any regrets we may have and start anew from today.

In the Kristina Karlsson book I mentioned a few posts back, she shares the writing of Bronnie Ware, a palliative care nurse who wrote a book about working with people nearing the end of their lives. In it she lists the top 5 regrets people had before their death. They included the following:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked as hard, or as much
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings more
  4. I wish I’d been better at staying in touch with my friends
  5. I wish that I’d let myself be happier

When I read through this list the first two stuck out to me like sore thumbs. I’ve often changed course in my life, deviating from what I truly wanted, because of other people’s judgements (real or imaginary). Or I’ve just been too scared to do what I really want because of my crippling fear of failure and humiliation.

Probably everybody can relate to the second one. Who hasn’t felt like they’re working too hard and expending too much energy at the expense of mental health, family time or just plain balance?

For me, writing fits just plum into this first category. I haven’t had the courage to do it because I’ve felt like a fraud, like everyone’s better at it anyway so why bother? Or like people will read my work and laugh – not because it’s funny but because it’s woeful. This fear has long been a regret of mine.

However, I’ve still got some amount of time left on this blue marble and I refuse to end up in palliative care talking about how I regret not having had the courage to write.

As Edith Piaf says:

Car ma vies, Car mes joies


Ça commence avec moi!

Edith Piaf

My life, my joy


It begins with me.

**Footnote – I changed the last word from toi (you) to moi (me) to drive home the point that having the courage to write is down to our own selves, not anybody else.

Have a little think about that list of regrets from Bronnie Ware’s book. What stands out to you? Is not writing or not creating on you list of regrets? Write down your thoughts.

Let’s have a cup of tea, sweep our regrets away and start anew. À demain xx

Credit – Artwork by Inaxor on Deviant Art

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