The second life I never lived, the flawless life


“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.”
Theodore Roosevelt


We should live two lives. One is not enough.

The first one should be the rehearsal, the tryout. We would live it and when it would be over, we would write down what we did wrong and what right.

We would make a note: “Don’t brood over this fucking test in English II. Read poetry.”

We would make a note: “Kiss her, now! What are you waiting for, you moron? Kiss her now!”

We would make a note: “Travel while you’re still 18 years old.”

We would make a note: “Quit this job. It eats you alive.”

We would make a note: “Ditch this relationship. It eats you alive.”

We would make a note: “Use dental floss!”

We would make a note: “Study something you long for. You’ll be doing this for the rest of your life.”

We would make a note: “Yes, your art is fine but you‘ll need money and time to keep doing this.”

We would make a note: “Play with your child today; you’ve promised it a volcano explosion.”

We would make a note: “Go over and see your mother. Bear her no grudge. For how long will she still be here?”

We would take a note: “Go for an outing. It is a wonderful sunny day.”


We would take notes for all our mistakes, for everything we should avoid and everything we should pay attention to. Then we would live the second life, the real thing, being mindful of the first one.

A flawless life.


I say this to Nelli. She laughs.

“We would do the same things all over again”, she says.

I look at her and I remember everything that has passed between us. Of course. I would do the same all over again beyond any doubt, just to live again this first kiss at the harbor while the night ship disappeared like a beast in the wild.


We are our mistakes and our passions.

There is no such thing as perfection, but there is a deeper meaning and this meaning is life.

All these aspects of our true self that are buried somewhere deep inside us; the infant, the child, the adolescent, the youth, the not-so-youth-as-we-would-like-to-be, the middle-aged and so on.


I look myself in the mirror.

Who is this unshaved man staring back at me? He reminds me of someone, someone that I have seen in thousands of mirrors; and every time he looked different.

I smile at this liar. The wrinkles on the forehead are getting deeper. I remember those wrinkles. The eyes are tired but their colour never changed.

Is it a midlife crisis on the threshold of my forties? I don’t think so, I’ve always had crises of that sort, ever since I was a boy.

I harp it on, which I call “High Index Existential Intelligence”: We are all good at something.


I sit on the opposite chair with my back turned on myself, looking outside.

It is a beautiful day, one more sunny winter day.

It is a pity that life is so short.

We have time to make so few mistakes.


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Translated by Alexandros Mantas