I often hear people speak about living with no regrets, and when I actually stop to think about it, I wonder what they mean by that. See, from my point of view I can only see three ways to live without regrets, all of which result in a life I wouldn’t want to live in the first place.
First, I could live totally alone and never interact with people. Why bother? Even at my most reclusive times, I can only bear to be alone for so long.
Second, I could never seriously consider the long-term effects of my actions on other people. Never ponder the ripples I leave in my wake as I move through the world. As some famous dead guy once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Third, I could just not care. Just live without empathy or compassion. Perhaps I could enjoy a life such as that, certainly many people seem to enjoy it. But appearances often deceive, and I suspect many of them are neither as callous nor as happy as they appear. While there are certainly simple pleasures to be had, all the greatest joys of my life come from the warmth and love I share with those closest to me.
If you interact with people, you will occasionally hurt them. If you consider your life and your actions, you will notice this. If you care about the pain of others, sooner or later you will pick up some regrets. And really, that’s ok. We’re imperfect beings in an imperfect world, doing the best we can with what we have.
See the thing is, I don’t think most people who speak of living without regrets mean the same thing the phrase brings to my mind. I see a thousand little regrets everywhere, swimming around the great big leviathan regrets like pilot fish around a shark. I think to most, the phrase means not to never have regrets, but not to dwell on them. Not to let them weigh you down until you drown in that sea. There’s certainly something sensible about that.
What does “no regrets” mean to you?