Friday, July 8, 2011


{I do not, however, regret going to Hawaii.}

For some reason, people like to ask if we have any regrets. Often, it comes in the form of, "What is your life's greatest regret?" I'm always puzzled by the idea of regret, or namely, having a 'greatest' regret. Often, we believe our mistakes or shortcomings are entirely our fault which ultimately leads to those feelings of deep regret. But, what about the things we cannot control? Or, those heavy crosses we each bear in our lives through no fault of our own?

I draw a blank every time I'm in a situation where someone asks me if I have any regrets. It's not something I've ever dwelled upon or spent an extended period of time mulling over. Maybe that's why it always leaves me tongue-tied. In order to regret something, it's a basic requirement to make a huge mistake or have a serious lapse in judgement that forever changes the course of your life. Like, I regret not looking twice before crossing the street. Or, I regret not wearing my seat belt. Those are things entirely under our control--but what happens next often is not. Our fates are often tied up in a complicated mess of cause and effect; and often, dumb luck. It's not as simple as we think.

I often forget I'm not the only one with a serious problem that has complicated my life. It's easy to forget, because we're so consumed with the thing that makes our lives feel heavy that we forget everyone has problems. You probably have things that keep you awake at night, or moments where you ask, "Why me?" Everyone has problems, they just appear in different forms in each of our lives.

I sometimes think having children (or even a child, there's no need to be overly demanding here) would solve every problem that exists in my life. Or, in this case, what I see as the only problem--because everything else is pretty darn fantastic. But as you probably know, expecting one thing to fix everything is a recipe for major disappointment. It doesn't work that way. We can't marry someone hoping that they will change. We can't have a child and hope it heals a hole that exists in our lives. It's just not possible.

So, where does the regret come in? I realize I cannot regret what I never had control over in the first place. In a way, my body really isn't my own; I have no control over that part of my story. In the grand scheme of things, it could be said that I do regret spending so much time wallowing in my own misery. Back then, when nothing made sense and it felt like life was crumbling apart, I thought unhappiness was my only option. Turns out, it wasn't my only option--it was just the option that made the most sense at the time.

I regret wasting my time being miserable, angry and ultimately, devastated by something that still doesn't seem "fair" in every sense of the word. However, I'm often reminded of a quote from one of my very favorite movies, The Princess Bride. There is a scene where Princess Buttercup (real name) is told, "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

Life is pain, but that doesn't mean we cannot move on and learn to live in the light again.

So tell me: do you have any regrets?


Leontien said...

Great great post.

But no, no big regrets to speak of. Maybe when i am old and almost gone, i might have a thing or two to share with you.... but until then i just keep going...


ChinaDoll said...

every person have regrets but it is not something we have to dwell on...mistakes or wrong choices serves as a lesson to make up stronger and grow up. :)

crystal theresa said...

i find it interesting that you wrote this post just a day before i wrote my post, in which i ask that question, "what is your greatest regret?" it was in the context of wanting to redo the day i delivered my son after he died.

i think part of asking this question is maybe seeking validation or making feeling less alone with one's guilt?


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