Regrets, I've had a few...

Carter Haydu
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Isn’t it funny? On the one hand, without exception we must all make decisions on a regular basis. On the other hand, the only certainty in life (aside from death and taxes) is uncertainty. How do we not all go crazy?

Of course, most decisions are small and rather inconsequential. The decision of where one will eat dinner on Wednesday doesn’t really impact a person, because even if he or she has a bad meal that day, Thursday is just around the temporal corner.

But other decisions seem to have a much larger impact on one’s life. What should I do for a living? Should I change careers? Should I marry that person? Should I end this relationship? Should I buy a house? Should I run in the upcoming municipal election? These seem like fairly major choices one must make and, potentially, one could make a decision that leads to undesirable consequences and, ultimately, regret.

What could be worse than regret? It’s in the same realm as shame, remorse and paper cuts — nothing could be worse. Speaking from experience, it does seem there are some poor choices I’ve made that I’ve not only had the “privilege” of remembering once, but seem destined to relive millions of times over and over again throughout the remainder of my life. What a terrible-yet-universal plight!

Perhaps the worst part about regret is it makes a person a tad decision shy. One bad buck off the proverbial choosing horse, and it can leave a person just sick at the very thought of ever again getting back in that saddle.

One can find oneself in a situation where he or she is willing to settle for a comfortable situation, not because he or she enjoys his or her life in that state, but because the fear of making a move in any other direction seems just too overwhelming.

However, avoiding choice is by no means an ideal option. In fact, that’s about the surest, quickest pathway to Hell there is. If one is less than satisfied with his or her situation, then dodging a decision that might change those circumstances will ultimately lead to a life unfulfilled.

The sick irony is, by avoiding the pain of making a bad choice, one can doom oneself to the worst regret of all — the regret of having done nothing, and it’s too late to do anything. If your life isn’t as you would want it, then you can’t follow the same routine and expect things to improve.

In the words of that Aimee Mann song from Magnolia: “It’s not going to stop, until you wise up.”

And so it is perhaps with timid hearts that all we can do is make ourselves actively choose our destiny, rather than allow life to passively happen to us. Live life on purpose, I say, or some other such fortune cookie sentiment.

Still, I would prefer to avoid the regret of bad decisions into the future. For some matters, an appropriate deal of research and contemplation can enable one to make a calculated risk that will, at the very least, minimize the chances of a disaster. Another wise activity is simply to be mindful of our thoughts and actions, so as not to accidentally make an unintentional choice that leads to an undesirable end.

Of course, there is no such thing as a sure thing in this life (with the exception of death and taxes), so regardless of how much preparation one conducts, the potential for a decision ending badly is unavoidable. All things are subject to circumstance, after all.

Perhaps we can choose to just be happy with whatever life brings us, but while that ability is indeed valuable at times, it should be a tool by which we deal with those things we cannot change, and not a way of escaping reality. If used as a means of avoiding responsibility, then “choosing happiness” seems more of an unhappy crutch.

It’s funny … hysterical actually. Nobody ever said life was easy. In fact, it’s damn hard! And, ‘ha ha,’ it seems the only decision we didn’t have was to be alive in the first place.


Carter Haydu can be reached at 691-1265.

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