Thursday, November 1, 2007

Starlight, starbright

A couple weeks ago, I was tagged by Crushed by Ingsoc for a meme. For some reason, I thought this meme was about wishes, and spent my commute home today contemplating the topic. I just returned to the original post, and it turns out it was about dreams, not wishes. Whoops.
However, I'm not going to waste my valuable pondering time, so I'm just going to cover my ears ("la la la, I can't hear you!") and continue on as though my thoughts on wishes are particularly relevant.

At first, I pondered beginning this post with a list of things wishes that are especially poignant for me this week. For example...

I wish that pickle jars were substantially lighter than they actually are.
I wish I could have faith that the truth will always prevail.
I wish that there was such thing as diet candy corn.


However, in thinking a little harder about the nature of wishes, I started to notice a trend in what I was wishing for (diet candy corn excluded), in that the bulk of my wishes seemed to fall into two primary categories.

The first of these is your typical "wish upon a star" type. These are the idealistic wishes about the future, the ones that flutter through your daydreams. They tend to be about love, success, riches, happiness, and the like.

I wish I was in the South Pacific right now.
I wish to still be in love when I am 75.
I wish that I could fastforward through the last few years of my PhD.
I wish that I could buy my parents that log cabin in the woods.


However, there seems to be a darker side to wishes. More often than not, it seems that the phrase "I wish..." is tied into the past, things people wish they hadn't said or done. Wishing is intrisically tied into the notion of regrets. With regrets then being connected to guilt.

I wish I hadn't been on holidays when my cat took his last breath.
I wish I started running when I was younger.
I wish I had taken more time off before starting grad school.
I wish my then unknown last goodbyes had been a little more profound.
I wish I had stood up for myself more in the past.


My case supervisor recently told me, in discussing how haunted some people become from their regrets, something that rings very true- It is a near human universal to regret spending too long doing something you shouldn't have. The only people without such regrets are those without insight onto their past.

There is something comforting in seeing regrets as more of a rite of passage, as lessons learned. After all, what one of us has not looked back on days, months, years too long spent in a bad relationship, and beat ourselves up for that time presumably wasted-- when, really, the fact that we will never find ourselves there again because of that time that was too much. Isn't that worth those extra years?

Living without regrets is a bad reality show catch phrase. Living through your regrets and learning from your regrets seems like something more realistic to wish for.

20 comments:

brookem said...

i like the idea (a lot) about living through one's regrets. good call on that.

distracted spunk said...

I like your thinking and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Yoda said...

Tru dat.

I was going to say the same thing as I read through your post ... Living through regrets is the only way to truly get over them. Also, its very important to cut yourself some slack and understand why you didn't do certain things in a certain way.

I saw your comment about the Google search thing. I'll take a look at your code to see if anything's wrong. I should say that it probably takes 3-4 weeks for the blog to drop off Google. If you sign up for other blog networks (like blogher, etc) its tougher, 'coz your blog link is already ranked very high due to its relevance. Anyways, I'll get back to ya tomorrow on that!

Yoda said...

I LOVE the title of this blog post!

eric1313 said...

This would be an excellent story idea. Regrets are powerful. The time spent doing something that would come to no avail isn't so bad--as you said, we can live through those, and I am satisfied with the times that I tried even for my effort to come to naught.

It's the regrets over the things we wish we had not done, the events that ended relationships, or hurt someone's feelings. The regrets over being angry with somebody and not understanding. The things that caused a severing of a romantic bloom or a friendship. Those are the one that sometimes keep one awake at night. At least to me.

And those, too, make us grow--if we let them. They teach us compassion and how it feels to hurt from a seperation from relationships that were quite a bit more valueable than what we thought they were. Living through them is the key.

Great post.

Airam said...

I never make wishes anymore because none of mine ever came true. At least the ones I really wanted to come true never came true.

brandy said...

When I first posted my "101 things about me" I got an email from a mom who said that she felt sad that I said I needed to say I had regrets. She was of the thinking 'live without regrets' was the way to go. I could never wrap my head around that thought. Because I like knowing I made mistakes, that I screwed up, took the easy way out, made the wrong choice. It makes me think harder the next time I have a choice to make. Anyway, I like the term you have of 'living through them'. That sounds a lot better to me, because it still gives what you did value, let's you recognize it but doesn't chain you to it. Well said lady!

Lord Chimmy said...

Regrets, I've had a few...
But then again, too few to mention.

Ant said...

Nah. Live through other people's regrets, and learn from their mistakes, that's the way to do it!

Thereby ensuring a stress-free life while all others around you go to shit... :-)

Miriam said...

I like all of your wishes. They seem to be more realistic than say "I wish I would win $1 million" You know?



http://lspoon.wordpress.com

NamesAreHardToPick said...

Can you imagine a life without regrets though? I mean, in some ways that would be kind of boring. That sadness gives us some balance and without it, I don't think many of us would appreciate the joys in life.

Sheila said...

So very insightful, so very true! As a person who has lived for 37 years, I have had my share of regrets. But if those things did not happen, my life would not be the same as it is today.

Living from and learning from your regrets - words to live by!

All Mod Cons said...

Again, another superbly written & thought evoking post.

I only have 2 regrets. One from 13 years ago, and another from this year. Not too bad really. I try not to dwell too much on the past, but learn from it & hope that it'll make me stronger and wiser.

So I guess that if I had the customary 3 wishes, I'd have 1 spare. Bonus.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

It is better to regret something you HAVE done, than something you HAVEN'T done.
All mistakes are insights, all failures challenges.

Libby said...

that is a very true statement. my mom? regrets...but seems not to have learned. and i hope i don't end up like that with all my heart. ps - you can so tell you're a psychologist b/c of how you divide your dreams/wishes into categories to anaylze them :P

singleton said...

"through".....a very very poignant word......
wisdom is often born of moments and times we might have changed,
but really wouldn't, now,
that we have learned from them....
the gift of making mistakes....
and how they change the tides of
today and tomorrow...

Beautiful post...

Beth said...

Poignant post.
I think a life with no regrets would be a boring and unfulfilling one.

The Lisa Show said...

"The only people without such regrets are those without insight onto their past."

Have you read Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman? I think you'll love it. It's one of my favorites.

P.S. I didn't think I could heart you anymore but I do! I do!

Princess Extraordinaire said...

Such a good point made here - it is living through our regrets that creates our essense and builds character....I loved this post!

cdp said...

I agree with Brooke. I love the idea of living through your regrets.

The thing that is difficult for me is that so many things I have lived through in the last five or ten years have been excruciating, but there have been small miracles borne of those trials. My marriage: excruciating. But it's hard to say I regret it because it did result in two incredible children. Law school: sucks major ass. But I have learned so much about myself and exactly how much I can endure.

This post was totally awesome. You are such an amazing writer and your thoughts always ring so incredibly true.

I've been slack in my commenting lately. Too much going on. Love to you.