As one might well imagine, during the course of writing these anecdotes I have encountered a few regrets so I thought I’d deal with those lingering demons and hopefully put them to rest. A week ago in my search for clarity I stumbled on a quote from a contemporary author who offers the following thought. It fairly reflects my current thinking about a few of the decisions I’ve made in this life.
“I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said I should do, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to and wondering what life would have been like had I just been myself.“
– – Brittany Renee 1986
In light of her words, I spent a few days pondering my regrets and assembled the following list. As time passes, I may come to amend it.
- I regret not doing more to express an appreciation for my parents when they were living, especially my father.
- I regret inflicting emotional pain on my x-wife and [presumably] my children.
- I regret not allowing myself to have an actual emotional relationship with anyone, especially my x-wife and children.
- I regret not getting to know my brother better. I did get to spend 10 days with him four days before he passed away and I will be forever grateful for that.
- I regret that when given the choice, I opted to pursue a military career as a navigator instead of a pilot.
- I regret not putting in the additional seven years that was needed to retire from the military.
- I regret devoting the bulk of my father’s inheritance to fully fund my eldest daughter’s college education. Half of that money should have passed on to her sister.
- I regret not taking time to reflect on the meaning of my life before this.
This limited number of regrets may seem a bit disingenuous because I did not include the decision to marry Connie. I did consider the idea but quickly dismissed it when I realized that had I opted out of our marriage, our daughters would not have been born. Given their professional accomplishments, that would have undoubtedly proven itself to be a tragedy to the people whose lives they have touched.
In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that regrets serve little purpose in life other than to assuage a sense of guilt driven by the unfulfilled expectations of others who, whether they realize it or not, may also be driven by the expectations of others.
As Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) so aptly puts it “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”