Thursday, January 12, 2012

Retrospect

One statement I've heard people make over and over through the years is “no regrets”, and when I've heard it I've always wondered to myself if the speaker truly meant it. In fact I've always believed that having no regrets was an impossibility, and that anyone claiming to was full of shit...

I think it's because I am incessantly reflecting on my life, not just the events of last week or last year, but from ten or even twenty years ago. But I'm not just reflecting, I'm analyzing and criticizing, and wondering if the choices I made or the road I took was right. There are choices I've made as a teenager that still haunt me, and that's just the beginning. I review the consequences of my decisions and I wonder what would have become of me If I made the opposite choice. Which path then would I have walked? Which roads will I have traveled? How would “things” have turned out?

And when I think back on these choices they seemed so inconsequential when I made them and in some cases I think invisible, as if I did not realize I was making a choice at all. It took time for me to discover that even something as small as a word can change everything. To realize that one moment of false bravado, or pride, or weakness, or selfishness, can alter the course forever.

The times when I hurt people are the worst. Even now I can feel how I must have made someone else feel when my words cut them, or my actions betrayed them, or my inaction let them down.

I found myself asking: What should I have done? What should I have said? How should I have reacted?
I think the answer to those questions is that there is no answer. I tell people all the time to leave the past in the past and yet I cannot seem to live by my own words because I am struggling to find answers where none exist. I'm like a dog going round and round in the living room chasing my tail but never catching it.

When people from my past ask me why I made a certain decision, even though I may have asked myself the same question a thousand times, the only sincere response I can give is to shrug my shoulders and say “I don't know”. Sure I can give reasons. I can play self-psychologist and offer explanations as to why I behaved the way I did, but it's like grasping at straws. It's like buying a scratch ticket but not knowing if you've won because no matter how many times you read the instructions you still don’t understand the rules.

I want to say that I have no regrets, and that every choice I've made and everything I've done has made me the person I am today, but only the latter is true and I'm okay with that. It took me time to realize that having regrets is not a weakness or some flaw in my character, as some people make it out to be. In fact having regret and admitting regret is quite the opposite. It shows strength of character. The hard part is knowing when and how to let go. The hard part is leaving the past in the past and just accepting the choices you've made, because no matter how much you may wish it, they can't be changed.

I regret that my face was this fat when this picture was taken.