Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Regret I Can LIve With and the Regret I Can't

There are two forms of regret hovering in my future these days. Of course, if I didn't think these translate to others' lives as well, I wouldn't think about them out loud here. Basically, we can call them the regret I can live with, and the one I don't think I can.

The one I can live with involves the long shot. Because it is the long shot, the likelihood of feeling that regret is pretty high. But the regret one feels for taking a chance and things not working out, however unlikely success may have been, is qualitatively different from the regret one is always in danger of feeling through playing it safe.

Maybe the difference boils down to whether our personality leans more to the pragmatist or more to the romantic. If to the pragmatist, then maybe you go with the odds and never look back, never wonder what if. But, if you're a romantic, and God knows it seems to be a trait that no amount of real life has been able to strip me of, then the almost certitude of failure does little to nothing in terms of negating the regret of not trying, of not giving even the thinnest chance an opportunity to defy the odds.

I can live with taking a chance and not succeeding. Even more so when success was never a thing anyone but I thought possible. But I can't, I don't think, live with always wondering what might have been if I had been willing to risk it all.

My life has never been normal, has defied one set of odds after another. I've at least one friend who never fails to point out my six- or seven-time membership in "the extra days club."* Given the choice though, I would rather die in joyfully attempting the "impossible," than live to a ripe old age in the safety of cloying normalcy. So, for those few friends who know the real topic here and think I need my head examined I can only say--"Yeah. So what else is new?"

*As he explains it, after some events--the ones of which we can honestly say, "I should've died that day,"--every day we live on is an extra day. Let me see: plane crash, car crash, coma, two unplanned canopy rides of less than 7 seconds, snake bite, rock helmet split open on a mountainside--I should stop counting, just in case nine lives is some sort of magical limit.