November 23, 2006
Choosing your regrets
My grandmother pulled me outside to talk to me just before the family was going to sit down for thanksgiving dinner. She wanted to tell me that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do. Figure out what I really loved doing. She then talked about how she used to be so creative and a risk taker, but it never worked out. She then lamented letting her life slip by and not risking more or making better decisions. It reminded me of something.
Once, in a depressed mood, I declared, "Life is about choosing your regrets." I can still remember how the people who heard me laughed, spitting their drinks out, at such a terrible, cynical comment. It seemed like quite a bleak way of looking at the world. I was reminded of that phrase when my grandmother was telling me her regrets.
I still believe it holds true, but I am reevaluating what it means to accept that. The truth is, you may always have regrets. You may risk nothing and regret taking the safe route. You may risk everything, end up with nothing and regret NOT taking the safe route. There are truly those that have no regrets, but they are in the minority. If you were to take a survey of American's in their 70s you would probably find a strong majority that have major regrets. Of those, I believe a majority would say they regret not taking more risks. They would say it in different ways though. They would regret not "living" more. "Seeing more." They would regret spending so much time trying to make or spend money. It's true that we decide whether we will have regrets or not, but I do not believe we can predict what we will decide later in life. Certainly if we are anything like the majority, its at least possible we'll decide to regret. If that's the case, what's left is to choose what we might regret.
As I stated, if we choose to risk and end up failing, we may regret risking; if we choose security we may end up regretting we didn't risk. It's up to us to decide though. We can change our mind at any time, of course. Though obviously we have less time to work with as we get older.
If I were to decide, I would rather end up with nothing, but believe I risked everything than to end up rich wondering how far I could have gone had I taken more risks. I would rather fight against the obvious until it is proven true, than accept the appeal to popularity without knowing for sure. I'm stubborn and as innate anti-establishmentarian. If I'm wrong, at least I'll have tried and will be able to tell others more definitively. Sometimes we have to sacrifice individually in the name of progress. In this case, progress may mean a re-evaluation of the modern view of modernity. Just because something was working at one time, doesn't mean it can or will keep working.
All ideas have blurry edges and my rambling is a sign that I'm exploring the edge of the point that was made in the second paragraph. I think I'll leave it as that.
Posted by wonko at November 23, 2006 06:23 PM
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