I Won’t Always Live in My Regrets

My personal philosophy has long been to not regret. My basis for this is fairly simple: given the assumption that the total outcome of your life’s decisions has led you to where you are, if you are happy, then you have nothing to regret. After all, even the bad or “wrong” decisions you made were part of what got you to a happy place, so there is no reason to regret them even if you recognize that they were incorrect.

I certainly don’t mean for this to be the sort of thing that everyone takes to heart; there are dozens of reasons for any given person to disagree with me, even if they are by my standard perfectly happy. However, for me, it has worked. I have made plenty of incorrect decisions in my life, but the place where I resided was, after a fair number of bumpy spots, generally happy.

I never really considered the flip side of that coin, though, which is that if you are not happy, then you are going to be filled with regret. I had just kind of assumed that regret was something I could forget entirely, when I was actually setting myself up to be crushed by it.

I had never really thought about it before, because I have been unhappy at times since I decided to think this way. However, in those times, there was always something particular to point to, a specific reason that I was not doing so hot that I could sort of hold onto, like a life raft that would float me back to normalcy once I overcame it. That always worked for me, and maybe never appeared to be contradicting my basic stance. Sure, things sucked, but they would be all right soon enough.

Now, though? Not nearly so simple. The past year or so has been a series of (I guess) not-so-good things, made in series, not always related to each other but each compounding in my head, drowning out the good things to a point where I… I don’t think I’m depressed, but I am certainly edging in that direction.

The short answer is that my personal philosophy is a fucking nightmare if the problem in my life is, well, me.

I feel like such a fool complaining about this. I know that people have it far worse than I do, and I also know that there are tiny things that are taking on major significance that they do not necessarily need, only because my mental makeup is a mess.

I’ve started working as a barista again in the past few weeks, and that has helped me see just how much of a regretful mess I have been. The things that are giving me psychic comfort these days are enough to drive any sane person to melancholy; while one should definitely take joy in the little things in life, those little things should not be the only joy tucked into a veritable orgy of self-destructive thoughts. I mean, at the very least, I should be able to listen to music on my walk back to my apartment without losing myself in dark thoughts.

I’ve always had a propensity for a sort of negativity in my thoughts; when I started writing seriously, a friend asked me what I wrote about, and my pithy response was “love, sad endings, and the idea of home”. While that has changed some (not as much as I would like), the basic idea that I don’t think much about happy endings has remained. I mean, at its most basic level, the greatest number of happy endings a person can get is one. There are many more opportunities for the sad ending, and some people, maybe a lot of people, never even get the one happy one.

The counter to this is that whether an ending is happy or sad depends on where you stop reading the story. I concede this argument and respectfully disagree.

So, if I’ve even been sort of negative when I was happy, what the fuck did I expect to happen when I wasn’t? And the answer is, I didn’t expect anything. I just sort of assumed that I would be happy, insofar as never considering the alternative is assuming. The problem there is obvious: we all know what assuming does.

So here I am, filled with regret for the first time I can remember, over decisions I’ve made and conversations I’ve had and job interviews I’ve blown, and I am literally at a loss as to how to get out of it. And, irony of ironies (if you’re into that sort of thing), I regret that most of all.

One comment

  1. mica

    While you’re reading that story, writing those pages, remember that every sentence, every page is part of the tapestry that creates the next verse. the next chapter. You can’t tear out a page and expect the story to have meaning or continuity. You’re exactly where you need to be right now, bringing joy and a smile into people’s lives. Put your headphones on after work, walk down the street, and regret nothing of the day. Be Here Now. Really, where else do you need to be?