I am often surprised by the cavalier disregard for the past people are given to express after a life changing experience. Encapsulating this attitude is the statement "I have no regrets". I don't understand what this means, or at least, I don't see how it could be true. A critical step in any irrevocable alteration, the curious boast seems to me little more than denial.
I lead an easy life. Although, in no sense of the term, financially endowed, still I lack for no necessities and am even able to pursue my hobbies with few restrictions. I like who I am, for the most part, and many of the decisions I have made seem to be right, or at least right for me. In short, I'm doing okay. And yet still, I have many regrets.
In fact, it seems to me that life itself is little more than the aggregation of regrets, and triumphs too, interest compounded from the choices we have made. The story of our lives told, in black ink or red, each entry one path over the other. To do one thing, we must neglect another. Opportunity costs and time eventually foreclosed some routes forever.
Already at the age of twenty-six (which I know to be no great achievement, but it is the only age I can be) I feel the weight of my regrets. Personal, professional, intellectual. Who I am. How I treat others. Where I am going. Even so, my discontent is not general, but specific. It has less to do with how things are now than how I got here, and what it cost me along the way.
Some of these disappointments may stay with me my whole life. Others might fade over time. Perhaps a few will make a better person out of me. Certainly they contribute to the eclectic host of talents, beliefs, and faults that consist this one man. In the end, I do not bemoan my fate.
I like who I am.
But I wonder if I could have been better. Better to myself maybe, or perhaps to others. Better not financially or professionally (which for me means scholastically), although those would be fine improvements too, but better in the sense that I had done more with what I had, or given more to others. I have my regrets, and they are as much a part of me as my jubilations. I have them, I keep them, at times I even brood upon them, and I have no regrets about that.