When I was younger, my creed was to live a life of no regrets. I really didn’t know what that meant at twenty, or even thirty. Now that I’m middle aged, I realize that was an impossible philosophy. How can you live a full life, one with risks, and not have any regrets?
I now know that the thinking of “no regrets” is flawed. Of course there will be things I wish I had handled differently. There are things I wish I didn’t do. That’s always going to be the case for any well lived life but for me it’s especially true. I’m a risk taker. That’s what I do. I am the person that passes an old creepy looking house and instead of wondering what it looks like inside, I find myself inside taking pictures. I can’t live another way. The moment I find myself wondering what something would be like, I realize there’s only one way to find out.
When one of my besties was turning 50, she had a hard time finding a friend to jump out of a perfectly good airplane with her and skydive. One friend couldn’t due to a knee replacement. Definitely a consideration so she gets a pass. I don’t know what the rest of her friends were thinking, and this chick has not a boatful but a yacht full of friends. On her big day, it was just she and I up there, feeling the butterflies and laughing nervously about how much fun this would be. And it was AMAZING!!! Of course I jumped with her, I’d always wanted to know what that would be like.
That’s who I am. I can’t take the road more travelled. I have to experience everything before I depart this body. Hopefully this attitude won’t expedite that process. So to imagine lying on my deathbed and thinking that there would be no regrets is actually hilarious to me in hindsight.
When you’re young, you just don’t know what life is going to present to you. I’m convinced that aging begins in the mind. It begins when watching Jeopardy night after night following a predictable dinner becomes the norm. I have headlamps and like to hike at night. I like going into caves. I will snatch a snake up in a second just to look more closely at it. Don’t judge, I love snakes. I once snatched up a Copperhead by accident, luckily for me I isolated it’s head immediately before I looked closely and saw the beautiful copper colored pattern. I said to my hiking partner, “Uh, this is a Copperhead”. As I said that, it opened it’s mouth and showed his fangs on cue. My friend was so freaked that her voice was shaking. My hands were sweating and the head was moving around and I knew I had only a few seconds to admire the beauty of this creature. I tossed it back into the bush. Do I regret that? Yes and no. It was pretty stupid and I know that was bad judgment. On the other hand, cool story, right? So no, that’s not a regret but perhaps a learning experience. No more Copperheads. Been there and done that.
So I now classify those experiences that could be a regret into the learning experience category. I learned. How do you learn but by doing? Don’t stop doing. Don’t stop having passion for life. That’s a slow death. Lack of passion is more pervasive than cancer in our culture. I believe that lack of passion, curiosity, and imagination are terminal lifestyles. You don’t ignite that by going to the gym and hitting a treadmill to nowhere for an hour. You ignite it by still dreaming, still having new experiences, and being a life long learner.
Time is flying by for me so I know it’s the same for you. We each die a bit every day. Don’t die with anything left on the table. Use it all. Do it all. Be brave. Be bold. Do what you fear most. Confidence isn’t something you download in an audiobook. You get confidence by going outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to pick up snakes. Just do something that scares you sometimes. Just sometimes. The moment you overthink it, the opportunity has passed.
As Helen Keller said, life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Don’t let your life be nothing.