Monday, November 23, 2009

Musings on Decisions and Regrets

I've been reading over some of my blog posts from the past few months....the ones I don't publish. Yeah. There are some of those. Things too personal to tell anyone about. But as I read over those, one thing is becoming clear. I've broken a couple of my own rules about relationships.

I'm not truly upset that I've done that, because even I know that things won't always be perfect. No, what upsets me I think is that I don't know if I'm going to live to regret the decisions I'm making right now.

Regret is a funny thing. You never regret the good things that happen. Unless it's winning the lottery and buying that bridge in London. It's not the winning the lottery they regret though...it's the result of a poor choice of how the money was spent.

Every decision we make brings some sort of regret. Don't believe me? Try this:

You wake up in the morning fifteen minutes before your alarm goes off. Are you happy that you're up early or do you wish for that fifteen minutes of snooze time back?

You decide what to wear for the day after listening to the weather report and when you get to the office, you find out the heat is broken and it's about 100 degrees in your office. Do you wish you hadn't worn that sweater?

You drive home from work and although you've got several different ways to go, you decide that you'll take the road that you normally do, but there's a traffic backup that will last for hours. Do you wish you'd taken a different path?

Regrets are like that. You make what you think is a good choice, a good decision, and something outside of your control makes the result something that causes you to then wish that you'd done it differently. If you'd only known the result...you could have changed the outcome right?

But there's also opposing influences at work that you won't ever know about.

Let's take my examples again. You woke up fifteen minutes early and regret that you lost that snooze time. But because you woke up early, you had time to spend fifteen extra minutes talking to a friend. And later that day, your friend is in an accident and doesn't survive. Do you still regret that fifteen minutes? Or does it become something that you're now glad you had?

You decide what to wear and it turns out to be wrong for the inside temperature. But despite the heat, you look wonderful in that sweater, you feel good wearing it, and everyone at work wants the same sweater. You feel wonderful inside, while maybe sweating your ass off on the outside...but the decision you made doesn't make one better than the other....just that not both of them worked out perfectly.

You choose a usual path to drive home and you run into traffic. You're stuck for an hour or more and when you're finally free you realize that you just spent an hour listening to that podcast you'd been putting off, you've talked to your mother on the phone and have made her happy for this month, or even yet...if you'd have taken the OTHER path...you'd have gotten two flat tires due to the roofing truck that was in front of you.

It's not the "bad" decisions we regret...it's the results of all those "good" decisions that just seem bad. We'll never know if the decision we didn't make would have made the results better or worse. And we'll never know if what we wish for as a "better" result, is actually the worst one of all.

Or look at it another way.....sometimes the best we can hope for is unanswered prayers.

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