I have two regrets in life. You might think I should have more, but two is a good number. I have long given up regretting mistakes I have made. Sure, there are many things I could have done much better if I had done them differently. The thing is, I am convinced I needed that time and those growth experiences to become the person I am today. The two regrets I have stem from experiences I could have lived and purposefully chose not to. I believe part of our human opportunity involves exploring our feelings and expressing them. My regret involves opportunities lost.
The first regret goes all the way back to high school. My high school did a play every year--something I participated in from my first year at that school. During my senior year, the director chose the play "Lil' Abner", a musical based on an old comic strip. As a singer and one of the most active play participants at my school, I had my heart set on playing the role of Daisy Mae, the beautiful lead character. I knew this would be a problem because the director was notorious for type casting, and I was not the blond bombshell type. However, I fearlessly tried out for the part nonetheless.
During tryouts, I acted out a scene with a friend from previous plays, Tab Bettis. In in the scene, we played the roles of Mammy and Pappy Yokum, Lil' Abner's parents and the comic relief of the play. We both did a really good job with the scene, and we ended up getting a standing ovation from some of the people sitting in the audience. I knew in that moment (call it my intuition or my God connection) that I could earn the role of Mammy Yokum if I chose to pursue it. At the time, I was just proud enough to not want that sort of comic relief role. I avoided any more acting that involved playing the part of Mammy Yokum.
Needless to say, I did not get the part of Mammy Yokum. I also did not get the part of Daisy Mae. I eventually decided to quit the play in favor of another project, although I did end up as part of the stage crew when the play was eventually performed. My friend Tab did get the part of Pappy Yokum. He did a magnificent job and totally stole the show in this role. I regret letting my pride get in the way and not experiencing this event with him.
The other regret is much more petty and involves an opportunty lost when I went through the demise of my first marriage. Our marriage had not been good for quite some time, although I was in total denial of it. My husband came home from a "business trip" with a pair of boxer shorts from the Hard Rock Cafe in LasVegas. He gave me some lame excuse about them having been given to him by a friendly waitress, which I bought because I wanted to.
My insides were screaming (again, my intuition). I had the insane urge to destroy the boxers by cutting them to shreds. I thought the actions were crazy at the time, so I fought the feelings and did not follow through. In the process, I denied myself the release I would have gained from actually going through the motions. Looking back, I also lost the opportunity to let my husband know, if in some subtle way, that he was not really hiding anything from me.
The past is what it is. I do regret choosing not to allow myself to feel these things--to explore these aspects of myself. I don't spend time dwelling on it because I don't want to waste time feeling when I could be doing. These experiences are important to me though. They serve as reminders of what can happen when I don't take advantage of opportunities when they come along. In this respect, even regret is a useful tool on this human journey we call life. Regret spurs us into action and allows us to make better choices. Regret paves the way for new opportunities in the future.