catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 1 :: 2012.01.06 — 2012.01.19


Ten regrets from 2011

I’m an optimist. I like doing things that bring me joy and satisfaction, and letting go of things that don’t. My friends often say I’m the most consistently happy person they know, and my life philosophy has always a mix up of  “there’s beauty in everything,” “life is an adventure” and “just be cool, man.” But I recently heard a lament over our cultural lack of regret, which struck a chord that I — and I suspect, many of us — all too often ignore: we are human, and we make mistakes.

Small mistakes. Terrible mistakes. Mistakes that fracture a relationship forever, mistakes that mean we have to go back to the grocery store twice this afternoon. And in each of these mistakes there are lessons that, if we take the time to see them, will help us not make the same mistake again.

Even if we manage to not actively mess up, it is inevitable that through the course of a year we will experience regret. Opportunities will come or not, we will take risks or not, people we invest in will respond to us or not. But as a society we like to ignore these missteps. We save only this time of year for “resolutions” — goals and ambitions that, unless carefully meditated on, will soon become impractical, unachievable and ultimately irrelevant. 

Instead, I want to take the advice I heard on reflecting and do some hard looking backwards. I want to catalogue my regrets from this year. I don’t think this is depressing — I hope not. Instead, I think this gets at the root of my humanness as is, right now. Making this list has helped me see some of the shortcomings I’ve struggled with for years, and a few new ones introduced this year. It’s also given me a context from which real growth and real dreams can emerge naturally in the coming year. How in 2012 can I live so that none of these regrets are on my list for 2013? That’s a New Year’s resolution I am excited to keep.

So here they are: My Top 10 Regrets from 2011.

  1. That I gave so much time to the instant social pace of the city, and so little to the slow rewards of meeting new neighbors, studying Arabic, getting to know my kitchen and garden and craft room.
  2. That I was lucky enough to befriend other talented actors, storytellers, and musicians, but too shy to actively seek out ways to perform again myself.
  3. That I didn’t save up two “rainy-day” funds.
  4. That when I got in a dance-mime competition with that famous(ly cute) guitarist mid-show I didn’t follow up with a phone number…
  5. That I still haven’t found a church home, and am still not quite willing to just commit somewhere.
  6. That I took initiative to join workshops and conferences with other activists and innovators, but was too hesitant to “match wits” with ones I most admired.
  7. That I spent three-quarters of this year trying to get the first quarter back again.
  8. That I got hooked on America’s Next Top Model (and that that happened right before the abysmal All-Star Season) and wasted hours on that show — instead of watching the great documentaries, foreign films and multiple award-worthy Ryan Gosling features of this year.
  9. That only now, after a season of uncomfortable introspection, do I understand how badly I’ve hurt friends in the past.
  10. That I didn’t stay longer in Jordan when I had the chance.

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