I often times find myself considering the actions of friends, co-workers, etc and wondering if they are at peace with their decisions. They seem to be so content with themselves. Do they ever wrestle with the consequences (whether positive or negative) of their actions like I do? Or are they more of the carpe diem type? Able to suck up even the worse situation as a classic case of better luck next time. You live you learn. It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't. You win some, you lose some. Have they accepted that mistakes are just a part of life?
When we were growing up there were so many things we couldn't do. Couldn't do because we weren't old enough. Because we weren't big enough. Because our parents didn't think it was best for us. Because it was a school night. Because 'I told you so'. They were so many rules in place to help shape us into the type of people our parents set out to raise.
But as we get older it becomes increasingly clear: the rules we set for ourselves are the only rules we know are real.
I yearn for clarity when I wrestle with my own actions, decisions, emotions and desires. I’m constantly caught between action and thought. There have been several times when I was faced with a situation and I had to decide: do I break my own rule? And if I do, will there be any consequences? I mean, certainly my parents won't be grounding me...
There are times when I was terrified of doing the "wrong" thing and regretting it. So, instead, I fought my emotions, what I wanted to do, and my "better judgment" won a battle that it probably should have lost. And for what? Just so that I didn't break my self-imposed rule? Just because I was worried what someone else might say or think? Times when I've stuck to my guns and found myself looking back and, on one hand, being proud of myself for abiding by my rules, but on the other hand filled with regret at the fact that maybe, just maybe, I thought too much and acted too little.
I'm not saying I regret all of the time. Or even most of the time. But every once in a while I regret. The things I haven't done likely could have only made things worse. But I'll never know for sure and I have a hard time accepting that on some days.
As I write this I realize that it’s certainly possible that I think too much and act too little. Sometimes I should just go with it. Do what I want to do at the time. Not burden myself with whether or not I'm going to regret it tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year.
I feel sort of relieved and excited about this confession of inner turmoil, doubt and shame. The next step is to live now, in real time, knowing that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. Today's actions could bring about hardship, heartbreak and regret in the future. But they could also bring about something unexpectedly amazing. The thing is you never know. There's no way to. So you've got to live for what you know, and what you feel, now. And let tomorrow figure itself out.
After all, if I'm the one making the rules, aren't I also the one allowed to break them? And if I'm not going to do it, then who is?