What’s your biggest regret? How would your life have been different if you’d made another decision?
Do I have regrets? What do you think? Of course I have regrets. You don’t live life very long without collecting a few along the way. But, regrets are funny things. They are easy to acquire, but difficult to shake loose. Regrets assume the other path would have been better or more fulfilling or more worth while. That’s the thing about regrets; they are usually delusional.
What I have found to be true, or at least I believe it to be true, is that most regrets are not worth the time it takes to think about them. Most, if examined closely, are full of empty promises and unsure destinations.
However, there are some that are tantalizing. There are those that we just can’t seem to shake, no matter how hard we try. I don’t know that I have any major regrets honestly. Sure, I have many things I wish I could do over, more to the point, do better. I wish I had spent more time with loved ones now gone. I wish I would have cherished my youth more than I did. I wish I would have been more daring and less concerned about image. I wish, I wish . . . well, you get the point.
But, would any of these things have made me a better person? A more fulfilled man? Doubtful. One things for sure, they would have led to different experiences. I said different, which does not necessarily mean better. Yet, different has its arguments too.
Robert Frost dealt with this very thing in his poem The Road Not Taken. The other path, which he left for another day, really was not any lesser than the one he chose. I have heard many people interpret the poem this way. Equating one path with the noble way and the other, left untraveled path as the worldly way. I don’t see that in the poem.
I find the poem to be more simple and, because of that, more profound. Mr. Frost is dealing with choices we make in life. And there are times when we must make a choice. We have two (or more) options; but, we can only pick one . . . which one will it be? Each choice has its own pros and cons. Each has its own waiting experiences and life moments. Each has its set of places and people we will encounter and meet.
But the rub is we can’t choose them both. If I choose path A it will have its fate. If I choose path B it will have its fate. There will be experiences and people I meet, if I choose path A, that I won’t if I choose path B and vice versa. I know it’s rather simplistic; however, it profoundly impacts one’s life.
What life did Frost’s traveler find down that one path? What life would he have found if he had made the opposite choice? Maybe both would have brought satisfaction and joy his way. Again, it’s not that one is better, it’s that they are different.
We sometimes regret that we did not choose path B, when we instead chose path A. But who is to say what would have awaited us down the other path. It may have been no better than the one we actually chose. Perhaps it would have been better, in some ways; then again, it may have been far worse. That’s just it. Once you decide, you usually can’t go back and find out. It remains forever a mystery: a nagging what-if?
I know, some of you will think I am copping out of naming a regret. Do you really want to hear a regret or, more appropriately, regrets I have? Okay, I’ll name one. I wish, when I was younger, I had gone overseas and studied abroad. I wish I would have just packed up and headed out. When I was seventeen or eighteen, or maybe twenty, just to have studied overseas, (preferably England), for a semester or two. I think I would have enjoyed it.
So, there you are, there is one regret I have. Of course, if I had done that who’s to say where I would be now. I may be reclining in my English manor, sipping my Earl Grey tea discussing the new baby George and hobnobbing with the local gentry. Who’s to say?
But, would I give up my life now for that? Nope. Not in a million years.
The other regrets? Well, some I would only tell on pain of death or a reasonable, handsome fee!