Ask yourself: what do you regret about your life?
Or if that’s too much: what do you regret about the past year?
I’m not a person big on regrets. Yes of course there are things I could have – and wish I had – done differently. People I wish I’d spent more compassion and time on. Things left unsaid. Or unnecessarily said. A left turn when I should have – and knew I should have – turned right. Or gone straightaway. Or stopped the damn car.
But these are choices made one way or the other. These choices represent my values, except for when they represent my nature. Because we all have parts of ourselves that run counter to what we value.
Me? I’m one hasty bastard. I make my decisions quickly, and act accordingly. When things don’t go well, I accept the results of my choices as results of my choices.
Which is to say that every single horrible and so-called regrettable experience I’ve put myself through has been the result of my own choices.
Which means that they make me who I am.
Whether I like myself or not, I’m always proud that I am my own person. No one makes up my mind for me.
So…regrets? No. Not really. Thankyouverymuch.
Every time – every single time – someone asks me what I regret about my life, about the last year, about any time-frame, the answer that always pops in my head is the same:
I regret that I haven’t worked harder at being a writer.
I regret that I didn’t work harder at this in high school. After high school. In college. After college.
The only thing I’ve ever really wanted to be, since the fourth grade when I gave up being an astronaut, is a writer. You’d think I’d work at it.
But I don’t. I make up excuses. I find reasons not to write. I assume I’ll have time.
The grad course I took in the fall was fun. It was a good course. I met some good people. I learned a lot.
Like how I was wasting my time. Like how all the great stuff to read out there is written by someone else. Like how I’ve never been courageous enough to contribute anything.
But most importantly: I learned that I am willing to work really, really hard when I decide to put myself to something.
So, for now at least, I won’t be continuing with grad school. This is not a hasty decision. I began thinking about it last semester. As I learned more and more about a writer I admire and thinking more and more about how books and fictions have shaped my life, I became saddened that I’ve never tried to make something that might mean the same to someone else. I turned this over in my mind through more than half of the semester, keeping my own counsel. And now, months later, I feel exactly the same way.
I feel like I’ve never even tried to live the life I want to live it.
So instead of another class or two, I will spend that time on writing.
I’m not going to pressure myself in any way other than to sit down every single day to write.
At the beginning of next fall semester, if even a single day has gone by in which I didn’t write, I will sign up for more grad classes and continue again down that road.(1)
But if I don’t, it’s because I’m doing the thing I’ve always wanted to do. Whether or not I can make a living at it.
- There’s the problematic vacation that Ashley and I are planning in May. I have a few months to figure out how I’ll handle vacation and writing, but I’ll make up my mind and stick to it. Or I won’t. And then I’ll face my own consequences.