The other day, I heard a similar sentiment articulated on the radio and I wondered, am I unique in that I think this is bullshit?
For starters, I don’t believe in regrets. I mean, of course I have guilt and remorse and pain associated with certain experiences, but I recognize the futility of regret. What is done is done.
That said, if I absolutely had to look back on my life and identify the things I might regret, without fail, it would be things I did do that weigh on me. Having hurt people through words or deeds, having acted recklessly, having wasted time with the wrong people, having endangered myself or others.
I can’t pinpoint a single thing I regret not doing. Perhaps it is because I have an inherent faith that if I didn’t do it, it was for good reason, or if it was that important I’ll do it again some day or I can just use my imagination.
We live in an era of “passion” driven impulsivity. If anything, I could be accused of being too tentative, too thoughtful, too apprehensive. And I attribute these traits to learning through experience the unbearable frustration of not being able to undo what is done, not being able to reset if I feel I’ve made a wrong move.
And, of course, in reality, there are no wrong moves. But in the same vein, there is nothing wrong with not moving, with not saying yes to every opportunity if it doesn’t feel right or not being swayed by every impulse.
Is it odd that at the end of my life I would like to be regarded less as someone who did so much but more as someone who took great care to consider the impact of my actions on others? That rather than people rattling off lists of accomplishments at my funeral, they recall times where I was simply there for them? Or that I was willing to forgo opportunities to stay true to my own ethics? Or that I made sacrifices to benefit those near and dear to me?
I’m no saint. If I’ve gone too far in my life, it has always been in saying too much, or saying it wrong, wearing my heart on my sleeve, and/or putting my foot in my mouth. And, that sensation of “oh crap, why did I say that?” already passes my threshold of tolerability. “Oh crap, why did I do that?” is torture to me.
So, tell me…do you regret more what you’ve done or what you haven’t done?