Je ne regrette rien

On the news front, Anne Mei has been accepted into the MSW program at the University of Pennsylvania.  The accelerated masters course starts in June.  We are going to move into Philadelphia in May.  Big changes on the horizon.  We’re looking forward, not back.

It’s been more than three weeks since my last post.  I actually started a post on the theme of Edith Piaf‘s song a few days after the last.  It was going to be about something I learned while meditating.  A seemingly minor lesson about not kicking myself when I realize that I’ve been off thinking about who-knows-what instead of staying aware of my breath.  But then Ralph Northam’s blackface picture came out and Virginia imploded.  They have a lot to regret, as does this country with its history of white supremacy.

Edith was singing about letting go of memories so she can start over (Je reparts à zéro) and live with the joy of loving the person to whom the song is addressed.

Car ma vie, car mes joies
Aujourd’hui ça commence avec toi

It’s taken me a while to figure out how Je-ne-regrette-rien could possibly be appropriate in the broader context of what’s going on in the world today.  Then I remembered a saying of my college Latin teacher.  To appreciate this saying, you have to understand his philosophy of teaching and learning.

Disce aut discede; manet tertia, caede.

In Church Latin, assonance gives the saying its rhythm and punch.  “Learn or get out; there remains a third alternative, get cut down.”  If you’re scratching your head, Fr. Prout would have followed up with “Flock of birds!”

In any case, he also liked to say when someone made a mistake:

Don’t be sorry, be different.

That applies to us and our country.  Sometimes saying that we’re sorry becomes a substitute for changing our ways.  “I’ve said I’m sorry.  What more do you want?”  Debates over what we should be sorry for can become distractions from making things better.  A good example of this dynamic is the “what about ….?” response to instances of injustice.  In the end, we just need to be different.



  1. Congratulations to Anne Mei! Know you will both enjoy Philly. Like you said no looking back, but Laura would be proud of Anne Mei and happy for both of you.

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