“No regrets” strikes me as the kind of expression you should jot down in someone’s high school yearbook. It does not, however, strike me as the kind of expression you should necessarily live by.
Hear me out.
regret (v.) to feel sorrow or remorse for an (act, fault, disappointment, etc.)
regret (n.) a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
I only recently had this thought about regrets and maybe my definition of the word doesn’t perfectly match the ones above. But, in my life, there are definitely things I have said and done for which I feel sorry and remorseful. In fact, there are a few things as of late that, if given a second chance, I would not have done. Point, period, blank. There are things I’ve done that have left me with a sense of disappointment. There are things whose YOLO factors did not outweigh their subsequent stings. There are things that I look back on and think, “Yes, if I could do it over again, I would not have done that. I would not have said that. I would not have willingly stuck my foot in that pile of shit or gotten myself tangled up in that knot. Point, period, blank.”
Society would have us believe that because there are some things I would take back if I could that I am not living my life to the fullest. I am not YOLO-ing. I am supposed to throw caution to the wind and have no regrets.
But, that’s a load of bullshit.
If you have some things in your life that you wish you had never done or you have some words that you wish you had never said, you know what that makes you? It makes you fucking human. It makes you normal. It makes you like the billions of other people roaming this planet who sometimes completely screw things up. It means that your brain is still functioning, your heart is still beating and the blood is still pumping through your veins.
The problem is not regrets. The problem is when you do not learn from those experiences. When you do not extract the bits of wisdom and apply them for the next time. Because there is usually a next time. Usually. The problem is when you do the same things over and over and refuse to learn from your own mountain of mess.
A friend said something to me recently that now makes much more sense than it did when I first heard it: “Prevention is easier than the cure.” She said it to me when I wasn’t in a mental space to really receive it. But, now, I get it. And, it doesn’t mean that we should live our lives trying to side step all of life’s madness. That’s impossible. It doesn’t mean we can’t act on impulse at times and still come out on top. It doesn’t mean that we should not have the lessons and the stories for one day when we are old and crinkly. But, maybe it means we should balance our whims against our plans. Our hearts against our heads. Our id against our super-ego. Our right now against our one year later. Balance. Maybe that is what we need to do.