If you could...

Recently, I read the Spanish poem, “Instantes (English: Instances)”. The poem was used to teach the imperfect subjunctive and conditional tenses, but for me, it taught me so much more than Spanish grammar.
“Instantes” (Español)
Por Anónimo
Si pudiera vivir nuevamente mi vida.
En la próxima trataría de cometer más errores.
No intentaría ser tan perfecto, me relajaría más.
Sería más tonto de lo que he sido,
de hecho tomaría muy pocas cosas con seriedad.
Sería menos higiénico.
Correría más riesgos,
haría más 
contemplaría más atardeceres,
subiría más montañas,
nadaría más 
Iría a más lugares adonde nunca he ido,
comería más helados y menos habas,
tendría más problemas reales
y menos imaginarios.
Yo fui una de esas personas que vivió sensata
y prolíficamente cada minuto de su vida;
claro que tuve momentos de alegría.
Pero si pudiera volver atrás trataría
de tener solamente buenos momentos.
Por si no lo saben, de eso está hecha la vida,
sólo de momentos; no te pierdas el ahora.
Yo era uno de esos que nunca
iba a ninguna parte sin un termómetro,
una bolsa de agua caliente,
un paraguas y un paracaídas;
si pudiera volver a vivir, viajaría más liviano.
Si pudiera vivir nuevamente
comenzaría a andar descalzo a principios
de la primavera
y seguiría descalzo hasta concluir el otoño.
Daría más vueltas en calesita,
contemplaría más amaneceres,
y jugaría con más niños,
si tuviera otra vez vida por delante.
Pero ya ven, tengo 85 años y sé
que me estoy muriendo. 

“Instantes” (Instances, English) 
by Anonymous (This poem is usually attributed to Jorge Luis Borges, but there's some controversy surrounding the possibility of Borges being the real author.)
(I’m not fluent in Spanish, so the translation might contain some mistakes.)
Please credit me for this English translation, if you are going to use it! Thank you~
If I could live my life anew,
 I would1 try to commit more errors in the beginning.
I would not try to be perfect, relaxing more.
I would become sillier than I am,
As I take the smallest things seriously.

I would become less hygienic.
Run more risks.
Take more trips.
Contemplate more evenings.
Climb more mountains.
Swim more rivers.
Go to places I haven’t been to.
Eat more ice-cream and less beans2,
Have more realistic problems
and less imaginary [problems].

I was one of those people who lived prudently,
and prolifically every minute of life;
Clearly with moments of happiness.3
But, if I could go back and try
 to solely have good moments.

But if I didn’t know, this fact of life,
This sole moment, I don’t want to waste that now,
I was one of those who never
west anywhere without a thermometer,
a hot water bottle4,
an umbrella and a parachute;
If I could live again, I would live more trivially.

If I could live anew,
I would start and walk barefoot during the beginning
of the spring
and continue being barefoot when autumn ends.
I would take more rounds on the merry-go-round,
Contemplate more sunrises,
and play with more children,
If I had another life in front [of me].

But as you already see, I am 85 years old, and I am dying. 
       1.The verbs are already conjugated in the form that indicates a hypothetical situation (conditional tense) but I felt that leaving the English words without the phrase “I would” would sound odd.
2.   2. The word that is used here is “habas” which is a type of bean, more specifically a broad bean, but I felt that it sounded better if I just used the word “bean”.
3. I wasn’t really sure how to translate this line. I guess it could also be “With clear moments of happiness”. But I could be wrong, and it could be neither… Hmmm... 
4. For those who don’t know, a hot water bottle is a rubber/latex bag-like thing that is filled with hot water. It is usually used in the winter, to keep someone warm.  

The poem, written with a tone of nostalgia and longing, almost brought me to tears. I saw the man’s (the speaker) carefulness in life, his desire to make no mistakes, and I saw part of myself in him. We go through life, working toward various goals, such as attending a good college, or working in a good job, and were so serious towards the goal. In the journey towards reaching the goal, it sometimes seems that we have blinders on, and that goal is all that we can see. Being serious is the only way to reach the goal and one error is going to make our hard work toward our cause go to waste, so it seems. However, sometimes we need to step back and ask ourselves, “Am I happy, am I satisfied with this life? With these choices?” We are all human, a fact that is easily forgotten, and it’s okay to make mistakes, to have flaws, to be frustrated, because no one, no matter what anybody says or may think, can be perfect. If we make mistakes, it’s okay. If we can learn from our mistakes and live going forward, everything will be fine. 

A long time ago, I had read Arina Tanemura’s manga, Full Moon wo Sagashite. There were a lot of profound quotes that made the 12 year old me thing and cry. Life is full of obstacles, and sometimes it’s hard to overcome those obstacles. Through our struggles, we lose sight of who we are, and what we’re looking for. Whenever I’m in a situation like that, I remember the quote from Full Moon that had moved the twelve year old me. “No matter how hard things may be… you have to risk enough of your feelings or else you won’t be able to get it… Courage. Faith. Doing your best to become someone you want to be. It’s a wonderful thing.” We’ll overcome those obstacles, and we’ll come out at the end, stronger and wiser. 

So… what would I change if I were to relive my life? Probably I would want to enjoy my childhood more. I was so occupied with growing up when I was younger and childhood seemed so… boring. However, I can’t go back and relive my life. No one can. But, what’s the joy in living a more perfect life? Frankly, I don’t think I would enjoy playing very much, because I wouldn’t know that growing up would be so painful. Life is about being excited at not knowing what’s going to happen next, and if I relived life again, I would know what will happen. What the fun in that? I guess, really, I don’t want to relive life again, but I can savor the few moments I have to relax, because if anything, that’s what I learned from reading “Instantes”. Live your life, savoring every moment, whether it’s happy or sad because… eventually, we’re all going to leave this world.


P.S Wow... I just realized how stark I sounded in the last sentence... T.T

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Maira Gall