I had always been weary of doing the right thing and then being sorry I did it. Especially when this concerned making sacrifices for the family and then unconsciously holding a grudge against them because I still regretted not getting to do something else, something so vital to my own sense of fulfillment and meaning in life. I didn’t want to have those grudges, and so, my mantra became: no regrets.

Let me develop that. You can regret something that you did, and you can regret something that you did not do. I always opt for regretting things that I do , instead of avoiding potentially wrong choices altogether. Because at least this way, you know how it would have turned out. Regretting not having done something is the most torturous kind of regret, because of all the “could have been”s.

So how has this been working for me? Mixed results. I went to Paris and married a young man that I fell in love with, four months after meeting him. And spent the better part of the next six years regretting it. What was I thinking when I married him? Well, I didn’t want to live with the regret of not having married him; of letting an absolutely unique and talented individual become a stranger when he wanted to weld his life with mine. Did I consider for a moment that we were incompatible, literally unable to function as a single unit? No, I didn’t think about it. See, I was all about no regrets.

Went to graduate school when my kids were 2 years old and 1 year old, pushed through so that I wouldn’t regret not having obtained an education due to the fact that I had young children, and unconsciously hold a grudge against them for life. Do I regret it?

Maybe.

And then there is the vending machine predicament. I stare at the variety of death treats, wondering, if I get a reeses, will I sit there eating it wishing I had gotten cheetos instead? Listening to my inner gut, I try to discern what it wants. My mind says, stick with the peanuts. But I don’t want to regret not having gotten the Snickers…Ultimately I end up regreting whatever I get, and when I get nothing…well that never happens because that would be the cardinal sin totally negating my mantra.

The same happens at night. I get ready for bed but then my husband invites me to a game of chess. Can I say no? But then I will never know how the game could have turned out. And sleeping is always so predictable…

But wait.

I know this. Peeling out of the covers before the crack of dawn, hurridly taping my drooping eyelids to my forehead, really far back for that EXTRA bushy-tailed look, peering in the bathroom mirror only quick enough to say, “Oh boy…”, I know exactly how each late-night game of chess turns out. And the mystery snack options all yield the same yucky aftertaste, and the what if’s get more and more predictable.

Still, I vote for no regrets. Now though it comes not as a result of my action or inaction, but as a natural consequence of the decision I make, when I have the strength of spirit, to not regret things.

It’s that simple.

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