Disclaimer, this newsletter is, like, really heavy and I'm not sure why??!??! I guess I have a lot of feelings right now, but just be warned.
You may or may not know this, but I’m writing a book. It’s a slow process, but at this point I have such a personal connection to it, that I’m fine spending my time on it (plus teaching is real hard and leaves little time for anything else). Last week I read over this passage that I had written but forgotten about. It’s not finished, I don’t think, but it’s good. Writing this book has given me the chance to hash out and explain to myself some of the things I believe. It’s led me to question a lot, and pushed me to think about myself on a real level. So, here’s a passage I love. I’m not done with it, but it’s the first passage I’ve ever shared so DEAL with it. My narrator and main character, Porter, goes through so much in the course of the book. Here he's processing a recent decision that he knows carries weight, he’s just not sure what the consequences will be. Here goes.
Humans are like trees. We have a set of complicated but established roots, and an upbringing predetermined by a million factors that shapes our trunks. Eventually, though, the possibility of our future comes into our own hands, and we see ourselves shooting in a thousand directions, unsure of which path to take. Eventually we have to settle on one, and we go for it. And as we climb higher in our lives, we see how all the other possibilities could have worked out, some better than the path we chose, but it’s too late to change our minds. We have to make it through the course of one journey to see how all of the other ones could have worked out, something we couldn’t see from the beginning.
The moral of the story is, we have literally no idea what consequences the decisions we make have. And that’s not a warning to not make those decisions, but an encouragement to do what you feel you need to do, and if it turns out screwing you over, then deal with it accordingly. It’s so easy to see that our present could be so different, usually for the better, if we’d made different decisions leading up to this point. But thinking like that is such a dangerous thought process because it just forces you deeper into this fictional place where you have failed, but you can see your alternative reality of success so clearly that you can feel the loss.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but clear vision is worthless if you are too far removed from what you’re seeing to do anything about it. Focus (pun intended) on creating a clearer vision for your future so that the when you look back, it doesn’t look any different than when you first envisioned it.
Obviously this is much easier said than done. Living with regret is an experience we are all familiar with, and one we have all learned to cope with. Regret is a tool or a burden, but whichever way you look at it, it's far away. It's in the past. The longer you hold onto it, the more effort it takes to drag it into the present. Let it go. Whatever 'it' is, let it go. Because whether you believe it or not, you do have the power to do so.
We have to think about how we’re going to move forward, not how we've previously failed to do so.