I can never quite understand or believe those individuals who purport to have no regrets.
Very occasionally I wish I lived the kind of life, and made the types of decisions, that meant I too could say that I had no regrets- these occasions are normally found in painful moments of self reflection and remorse, contemplating some regretful incident the night before.
My reality, however, and I think the reality of most people, is that life is full or bad judgments, flawed choices and mistakes that we later lament and regret.
One of the aspects of life that I believe affords, or certainly contributes to the possibility of regretlessness- I think I quite possibly made this word up but I trust that it makes sense- is simply that memories blur and dilutes over time. I believe that the mystical people I speak of that have ‘no regrets’ are making just as many mistakes as us mere mortals. It’s merely that they succeed in forgetting about them. As we forget our mistakes, the extent to which we wish we hadn’t done those things wanes. Regret, in other words, is causally related to how easily we can recall certain incidents. This is my theory, anyway. Not science. Merely conjecture.
This ability to genuinely enjoy or experience regretlessness is, in my opinion, about to change because our digital world has made it increasingly hard for us to forget our mistakes.
We have perilously little control over things we have said or done online; or for that matter things we have said or done offline, that our so-called friends have decided to publish. While there are stringent privacy controls on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as we all know only too well, there is little to stop people sharing, propagating and spreading content to realms that stretch far beyond the confines of the platform. Corporations like Disney are very quick to have Youtube videos removed that commit even the mildest of Copyright Infringements, but it’s often the case that by the time they have disappeared from Youtube, they have spread to corners of the web so clandestine that the content can never be wholly purged.
If Disney struggle to remove or bury content they want to keep hidden, what chance do we mere mortals have? Mistakes that we might have formerly been able to purge from our minds now mock us at every online click.
And now to the point of this rant…
What worries me is that with our mistakes increasingly hard to avoid or forget, we might become more self-conscious about what we do and say. Actions will be more considered, well thought-out and spontaneity will be dealt a fatal blow. I believe that mistakes, and indeed the healthy dose of regret that should accompany them, is what keeps life exciting- It is what keeps us real and allows me, for one, to try to become a better person. Far from trying to avoid regret, we should embrace it. Life is too short not to make the odd well-intentioned mistake.