Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I will never regret this

As Brando raced down I-20 toward Florence I thought, “I will never regret this.”

Brando is our blue CRV. HB rode in Brando’s back seat. Five-point-harnessed, the wild curls of a doll’s red hair tangled around her fingers, an abandoned half-empty bag of fruit loops wedged between her leg and the seat, she whined, “I don’t want to go to Nana’s.”

“Someday,” I said, “when your Mama is old, you will pack up your own little girl and carry her to visit Mama. And your daughter will wail, ‘I don’t wanna go,’ and you’ll say this: It’s important.”

“I don’t wanna go,” she said again.

“It’s important,” I said.

It isn’t often that while I’m doing something I acknowledge, “I will never regret this.” On the contrary, I have frequently acknowledged the opposite while continuing ahead on an ill-fated path.

I regret exiting the dirt track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway by climbing the 20-ft fence. I regret letting a good friendship sour in one reckless, thoughtless weekend. Ancient and unaffiliated events; both fueled by too much alcohol.


But last Wednesday, while driving for our weekly visit, I thought, “I will never regret spending one afternoon a week visiting my Nana.”



I can see why HB protests. It’s me and Nana and Papa sitting in a cool, dim room chatting. We talk about sisters and children and politics and Clemson football. We talk about jobs and earning a living and entitlement and paying bills.


I imagine it’s pretty boring for HB. She retrieves Papa’s pink yard stick from the hall closet and Nana’s miniature purple bunnies from the back room. She reaches up to the M&M dispenser Papa keeps on the counter, fills her palm with candy, and shoves them all in her mouth at once.

Then she goes outside, commandeers the ancient red tricycle, and turns the wheels with determined feet, squeaking around the patio and driveway.

“Your Nana and Papa are getting old. They won’t be around forever.”

That’s what my father told me in 1995 when he suggested I go to Clemson where Nana and Papa could keep an eye on me from the weekly football tailgate.

It’s not forever, but it’s been 17 years. Charlie and I got married on their 50th anniversary. My daughter’s middle name is my grandmother’s maiden name. There are now a few things I will never regret. Like going to Clemson.

 

Understand the implications


At 18 I told someone I didn’t believe in regret. “Simply learn from the decision and move on. Or make the right decision in the first place.” Eighteen-year-olds are so smart.

I’m old enough now to know cowardice, true cowardice, in all its lurking forms. And I have regrets now.

Regret is a sour emotion. It seeps into our mistakes, leaves a bitter aftertaste. Regret breeds cowardice.

The possibility of regret, just a whiff of it, causes indecision. I know there are choices I made simply to avoid regret. Choices I avoided to prevent regret. Let someone else decide. Let someone else live with the regret.

Every time we decide not to choose we are, in fact, choosing to let someone else’s decision change our fate, choosing to pass up opportunity, choosing inaction over action. And every time we choose we risk failure. That’s just how it is.

 

Take Responsibility


Failure by someone else’s hand might remove our own regret. Might feel like the outcome wasn’t our fault, like the circumstances spun beyond our control. We are the passive victims of some other person’s mistake. Garbage.

I will never regret this.

It’s a strong mantra. I don’t think I can apply it to every choice I make. At 5 a.m. it’s hard to remind myself I never regret the run I took, just the one I skipped.

It’s impossible to wipe clean all regrets. There must be risk for there to be a reward. And sometimes I fail.

But the possibility of regret does not frighten me anymore. At least, it doesn’t frighten me into inaction. Instead, I work hard on the choice, while it is still mine to make. Then I take action. Do something to own my own fate. I’ll own the regrets, too. But I’ll probably have fewer of them.

I'm lucky and now and then I find myself thinking, “I will never regret this,” which is followed quickly by an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

So how about it? One regret? One thing you do that you know you will never regret? Share in the comments!

10 comments:

  1. Why is it you ALWAYS know when I need inspiration? While there have been times in my life I have regretted my action or inaction on occasion, there have been many more times when I can honestly say, "I did not regret..." Maybe the one which stands out to me the most at this moment is moving back to SC and getting closer to you and getting to watch you become this incredibly smart and caring woman who is destined for great things. You never cease to amaze me with your insight and your desire to always look at the cup as not just half full but brimming with possibilities! Thank you for being you and I am so proud of being your Momma!

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  2. Very dear post! loved the perceptions

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  3. Part of me echoes the 18 year old you, but a much wiser and seasoned me understands the shadows between white and black to be where life is really lived. Regrets? Surely. But also the compassion to know that I did the best with limited knowledge and a faulty human disposition. It's our own regrets that help us develop compassion for others. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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    1. I think you make a great point with the word "compassion." I so rarely exercise compassion for myself. My internal dialogue can be brutal!

      In order to know I did the best with what I had, I have to habitually do the best I can. That's a pretty big commitment.

      Thanks for coming by, Lori.

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  4. Do I sometimes fall into the "if onlys"—for example, if only I had started writing seriously twenty years ago? Yes, absolutely. But the fact is, because of many things, I didn't, and I can't change that. Lara's so right; I did the best I could, and if I were to erase the past, including a lot of painful stuff, I wouldn't be the person I am now. I wouldn't have this life I live, for which I'm very grateful. Thanks, Kasie, for this post. You've reminded me of what's really important.

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    1. Hi, Gerry! Thanks for stopping by. You're so right that we cannot change what's already happened. I think my 18 yr old self would wholeheartedly agree.

      But I also think living in the moment can be dangerous. I want to say, "I live in the NOW!" but I always have that, "will I regret this?" question I use to evaluate my choices. Decidedly not in "the now."

      Maybe a balance between the two is what I seek. Oh, and gratitude has been a guiding principle for a very long time.

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  5. What a great post Kasie ... As I get older I find I have fewer and fewer regrets, but I am human, so I do still have them on occasion. But something that I will never regret is my decision to move back to Virginia from Oregon, so that my daughter had time to spend with my parents ... I loved the Northwest, but bringing family back together was more important than what I had found for myself in "the home of my heart". And although she wasn't aware of the purpose for the move, I know that she treasures the most wonderful years spent with my father before he passed in 1996 ... and we have recently started "sleepovers" with my mother. These are fun evenings for the three of us, but secretly a way for me to see how my mother is really doing as she ages! Love to you, Charlie and Hollie ... Sheila

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    1. Hi, Sheila. So glad you stopped by! I'm also very glad you came back to Virginia since that's where Tami and I met and you and I became friends. Some of the biggest choices we make -- like moving -- turn out to have unexpected happy results. Coming to Columbia has been - so far - one of the best decisions I've ever made.

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