Regret vs. Remorse



Don’t you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone! – Saito (Inception)

In my last post, I mentioned that I do not have any regret in my life. That is because everything that has happened has happened for a reason. I do not live in the past in order to find solace or answers because my life is what it is. I know that my experience have shaped me into who I am right now. The question that I got yesterday was…do I feel remorseful for all that has gone wrong? Well, yes I do. But, there is a difference between remorse and regret.

If I regretted anything then that would make it very hard to live for the moment and plan goals for the future the way I do. Remorse is more of feeling bad due to a sense of loss. Trust me, I lost a lot. I have lost a marriage and a certain way of life. That itself was so hard to deal with for such a long time but, all things get better with time. It is my opinion that regretting the end of my marriage would mean regretting getting being married.

I am a culmination of my experiences. A total of my decisions made and not made. I cannot think about “what ifs” because there is no point. Of course, there is the fantasizing of what could have been, but many times that may hinder life in the moment. Perhaps it is better to just believe there are millions of parallel earths where anything that could have happened does happen. Which means that the reality that we live in right now is the one we need to deal with.

I do not want to live a life of regret. That would just not be the way to go. We all have peaks and valleys in our experiences. A life without issues would frankly be boring. There is nothing to learn if we did not have stress to overcome. It is ok to remorseful for a loss of a love, a loss of a job, or a loss of a dog (I still think about Rusty and I still, to this day, cry just a little bit…). But regret? Where does that get me?

I love the fact that I have had the experience I have had. I have been in love so many times and have had my heart broken many times. I have lived through the horror of 9/11 first hand. I have survived rolling my car and totaling it. I have seen the beauty of a glorious sunset in places that are not in this country. I have pulled people from a car wreck. I have let people cry in my arms and I have cried in others. How can I regret living a life that allows me to express my emotion through writing?

I am not saying I do not have a heavy heart. I love hard. I just could never love right. I am trying to use every last bit of experience to do things the right way. So, I can love my family the right way, so I can love Rocky the right way, so I can love the next woman the right way, and maybe…just maybe..if I get lucky enough, I can love a child the right way.

See, I cannot regret my past. Everything and everyone has played a critical role in my life to get me where I am today. So that I can love myself and have the courage to go out and get what I want from life. So I do feel remorse for what was, but I cannot let that feeling own me because then that would lead to regret for what could have been.

I am not saying that I need to forget the past but I refuse to let it own me.

“I miss you more than I can bear, but we had our time together. I have to let you go.” – Cobb (Inception)

If I had to do it all over again, I would…

“I am a guy…when do we ever get anything right the first time?” – Hitch

About a week ago, one of my friends on Facebook posted this on her status: “If I had to do it all over again, I would…” First, I was amazed she got 38 responses. It was an interesting topic that had people thinking about regrets in their lives. It made me think about if there is anything that I may regret in the 35 years of being on this planet. My response to this status was simple: Everything happens for a reason. I am not sure I would be the person I am now if I made different choices…

As you very well know, I am the first person to admit when I am wrong or when I have made a mistake. Life is full of mistakes and we should learn from each one, I am just not so sure we should go back and reflect on them for very long. Of course, I am not talking about a life altering mistake in which someone goes to jail. In those cases, people have nothing but time to reflect on the choices that have been made.

I think about all the things that have led me to where I am today. All those decisions, to either take advantage of an opportunity or bypass one, is at the heart of who I am. I do not reflect on what could have been for too long because that is just not healthy. I will also go on record to say that I have no regrets. However, that does not mean that I do not acknowledge any of my wrong doings from the past, it just means that I am learning from the mistakes that I have made in both love and life.

I have come to realize that if there is too much regret from the past then it will be hard to seek happiness in the future. I know that I tend to be hard on myself. I tend make myself pay for all mistakes. I think it is human nature to blame ourselves for things and it may also be that same nature to harp on the things that we wished could have been. The problem is being able to stop myself from overthinking the past, which I do tend to do. Sure, it is easy to just say “It is what it is” and move on, but we tend to stick to certain points in our lives that just stand out.

I realize that overthinking the past simply means that I may have not let go of everything yet. We try to hold on to ideals. We try hold on to the memories because in certain cases that is all that we have. The concept of letting go is deep on so many levels. I have gotten to the point in which, if I am dealing with something that has to with a past issue and I feel hurt or stressed by it, I take a step back and tell myself that I have not let this issue go. I let the idea of letting go become a barometer for how much I have or have not moved on from a particular issue.

I consider regret as another way of not letting go. So, that is why I can firmly say that if I had to live my life all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am who I am, mistakes and all. Could I have done better? Sure! Could I have been a better husband? Absolutely! Could I have been a better son? Yup! Could I have been a better friend? Of course! But, I cannot regret all of that. I really cant. Because I know that through each phase of my life, I have had things that I was constantly dealing with that have made me question myself.

Now, I get to start all over again. A true clean slate. I choose who is in my life. I choose what I want to do. I now have a reference in which I can look back to and say, “I wont do that.” I know first hand consequences of bad decision making. This all comes back to what I have always said: things happen for a reason. In many cases, things happen so we can learn to be better people. Mistakes happen so we can learn to better ourselves.

I had a discussion with a friend about 2 weeks and I said to them: I have a new number 1 in my life…and that person is me.