Seems like the facile platitudes once only visible on bumper stickers and office coffee mugs are everywhere: silk-screened on t-shirts, posted on social networking websites, tattooed over butt cracks. Meaningless quotes like “live, laugh, love” and “we do not remember days, we remember moments” surround us, infusing the very air we breathe with pop culture existentialism. One of my most favorite meaningless quotes is: “Never regret anything, because at one time it was exactly what you wanted.” Let’s discuss that particular wafer-thin premise.
I do understand that “Never regret anything…” is mainly a woman’s euphemism for “don’t feel bad about your youthful promiscuity.” And you know, I agree with that. If you fucked a lot in your teens and twenties, and didn’t have one or more children or acquire a debilitating venereal disease, then bully for you. Only possessive assholes give a crap about how many partners you’ve been with before them, and frankly if it’s such a big issue that you need to justify your past with a phrase you might see scrawled on a teenager’s loose leaf notebook, then said relationship is probably going to be really shitty. However, to never regret anything…I mean, that’s how sociopaths behave, right? They have a poor sense of right and wrong, and so the line between waving hello to their neighbor and choking the life out of him becomes blurred.
The fact is that we learn by regretting: by facing our mistakes and wishing we hadn’t made them. Everyone has points in their lives when they wish they could start over, change decisions of the past and perhaps enjoin missed opportunities. Unfortunately, when looking at time, only hindsight is the exact science. But it is through this hindsight that we can see pitfalls and try to avoid similar problems in the future. It’s called Normal Social Development. Willfully refusing to regret anything is a kind of an Objectivist excuse for being an asshole.
I haven’t lived so many years that I feel comfortable dispensing life advice to anyone over the age of ten. Even then, what could I tell a ten year-old? “Don’t text with your mouth full.” But if there are any thin mantras I follow, then they could be these three:
And if you choose to ignore these stupid quotes, then please: regret things. Ruminate in context, but do ruminate, regret, and grow.