Recently, there was a conversation amongst friends regarding two different philosophies on regret.
Let’s call the first philosophy “No Regrets!” This is the desperate defiance toward regrets in life, grabbing each moment by its invisible genitals till it submits and allow no regret to creep in. And should you suffer some hard memories and defeats, you then realize you needed those low blows to become who you are.
Let’s call the second philosophy “Shit Happens.” No matter how you spin it, you will experience things that you will later wish you had done differently. This is alright. This is an important realization. You will have bittersweet sadness. Regret will form as barnacles on the hull during your journey. This is inevitable.
I find both philosophies useful (if the brain can compartmentalize them). In repose, one should realize the latter. But in the moment, in motion, one should live the former. If one just follows the second philosophy, accepts regret a little too fully, it becomes all too easy to let go of the things we really want to accomplish (when the going gets tough and we have to stray away from comfort zones and expectations) by preemptively labeling and packaging those things as the future regrets that…well…are just a part of life.
Better to accept no compromise to regret in the present. There’s plenty of time, after the fact, to pick up the shards and label them. We can store the bittersweet in the back of the brain, while letting the Quixotic gallop out of the front of our skull.
In the past, I definitely subscribed to the first “no regrets” philosophy. I think that was because I thought I was a “true” unicorn. I have no idea what I think now. But good post!
“I am no longer like the others, for no unicorn was ever born who could regret, but now I do. I regret.” —The Last Unicorn
Thanks, Emily. Excellent quote. Not knowing what to think is a wise place to be, me thinks.