Tag Archives: the past

Regrets

I was reading the comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal recently and came upon his comic about changing past accidents

The thing is, I actually believe “my mistakes brought me here.” This is similar to what the man in the comic says, but subtly different. The author of the comic seems to imply that people who wouldn’t change their mistakes think that mistakes are by definition good things. I would put it more like “mistakes are inevitable.” The punchline of the comic is that the man wants to change a time when he “asked out a girl through the Taco Bell drive-thru.” It’s a funny joke, but I have to say that it seems to me that if he was the type of person who thought that was a good idea, just because he didn’t do it that time he very well might do it another time. Theoretically it would be better if we learned some other way than through mistakes, but sometimes we’re just kind of dumb and have to learn that way. Sure, if we had a genie things would be better, but in the real world that’s not an option.

Besides, I think he’s making an error saying that any changes made to the past would have a trivial impact on the future. Consider the butterfly effect, small changes have the potential to build up over a long enough period. Changing an event one week ago might not have a big impact, but changing an event 10 years ago could have a huge cumulative impact.
Besides, changing the past might have a positive impact on who we are, but it would definitely change who we are around. I might wish I was a different, better person, and I’m working towards that, but if my dumb mistakes in the past brought me into contact with the people I know and love now I wouldn’t change them. Some of my deepest bonds have been built around stupid decisions I made that my friends helped me recover from.
Still, thinking back I wonder what I regret the most. I honestly would say that it isn’t the big dumb mistakes I made, it’s the little compromises I made. If I had spent more time living instead of watching from the side lines, a little more time creating than consuming, or a little more time exercising instead of sitting around I really wonder how much better my life might be right now. It’s with that in mind that I write this blog, knowing that I can’t change the past and not regretting it because I still have a life I enjoy. 
Mistakes don’t necessarily make life better, but they’re a part of life and in the interest of positivity we should look for the goods that have come out of our falls. Sure we could theoretically be living a “perfect life,” but most of the time we spend thinking about such things is completely wasted when we could be living the life that we do have. Spending a moment to think about our regrets in the interest of learning from them isn’t a bad idea, but we should move on as soon as possible in the interest of actually living in the present rather than in the past.

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