Missing Out.

“Our utopias tell us more about our lived lives, and their privations, than about our wished-for lives.”

~Adam Phillips.


A fascinating book.

“There is a gap between what we want and what we can have, and that gap … is our link, our connection, to the world… This discord, this supposed mismatch, is the origin of our experience of missing out.”

“The unexamined life is surely worth living, but is the unlived life worth examining? It seems a strange question until one realizes how much of our so-called mental life is about the lives we are not living, the lives we are missing out on, the lives we could be leading but for some reason are not. What we fantasize about, what we long for, are the experiences, the things and the people that are absent. It is the absence of what we need that makes us think, that makes us cross and sad. We have to be aware of what is missing in our lives – even if this often obscures both what we already have and what is actually available – because we can survive only if our appetites more or less work for us. Indeed, we have to survive our appetites by making people cooperate with our wanting. We pressurize the world to be there for our benefit. And yet we quickly notice as children – it is, perhaps, the first thing we do notice – that our needs, like our wishes, are always potentially unmet. Because we are always shadowed by the possibility of not getting what we want, we learn, at best, to ironize our wishes – that is, to call our wants wishes: a wish is only a wish until, as we say, it comes true – and, at worst, to hate our needs. But we also learn to live somewhere between the lives we have and the lives we would like.


We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason – and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find and give the reason – they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live. But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are.”

My past has no unlived life that I can readily identify, despite trying very hard.  Yes, I have had my share of failures and frustrations, but by and large it has been a well lived and satisfactory life.  My unlived life  is in the present, right now in not being able to do this. And, I don’t have to spend a great deal of living life trying to find and give the reason for it.


My children think that I am daft for wanting to ride around like that despite my assurance of wearing a helmet. They insist that I give up such dreams and simply stick to cars and autorickshaws. And that is the story of my life and I am sticking with that till the kids change their minds and allow me my little indulgence.  What the heck, can’t I be a biker of this type if not the type that Shackman had!

This HAS become my story.  I could cry.


14 thoughts on “Missing Out.”

  1. I remember a older woman once, always wanting to drive a long-haul truck but knew it was never going to happen. One birthday her family organised for her to be in the drivers seat of such a beastie and she got to semi-drive it by starting up the engine. Then she moved into the passenger seat and the guy drove her down the motorway and back – she had such a thrill…

    1. No, it does not till one reaches a stage when dreams are no longer necessary as the realities of the past are enough to keep one enthused and motivated to live just that another day.

  2. I’m trying to think of anything I suffer over not having had or not having done. Can’t come up with it…
    Either I have learned to tailor my wants and wishes to reality or I have had a totally blessed life (and still am). I vote for the latter.
    P. S. Just remembered that at one time I wanted to hang glide. It seemed the dreamiest thing to do. I gave that wish up willingly when my optometrist crashed and was paralyzed. Still not sorry about that.
    Mother recently posted..Women Paying it Forward

  3. Well, it’s a conundrum. Do you allow your children to live their lives their way? If so, they should allow you to do the same. Get the motorcycle if you must. (I tend to think how likely it would be for me to slide sideways and give myself a case of full-body road rash, more broken bones, and months of exquisite pain – and that urge passes very quickly. If that thought doesn’t daunt you, do it.)
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Cassandra Foretells of Adventure #storyaday

    1. Holly, my son is ditto what I was at his age. A bully. I yield because I know that he means well. I am unlikely to land in the kind of hassles that you picture for yourself because I have been a biker and just want to get back to being one again.

  4. The book may be depressing but looks that I must read it. Thank you for re-pointing me to it. The first time I read this post I went to the Shackman’s post and my thoughts got re-directed.
    I think I may have missed quite a bit in my life, here are my regrets, I have also done a lot and here is my consolation. There is still time to live my life fully even if physical side of it is limited.
    I think that you can get yourself a bike or a scooter…

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