We all have them.
At what point, however, do we look into ourselves to realize that it isn’t the end of the world? We’ve all done things that are better off buried and I’m sure we all have missed opportunities that we wish we could relive. Unfortunately that’s not life and we only get one chance. Somehow we have to find a way to live with our mistakes and keep on going.
Let’s take my colossal fuck-up as a pure example of how to live with regret.
I went to dinner with my best friend, his girlfriend, and his grandmother. It was quite a motley crew if I do say so myself. Anyway, we went to a Norwegian dinner lodge so I felt quite at home (I’m part Norwegian and have quite a bit of the Viking culture in my blood). Being the dick that he is, my best friend thought he could catch me off-guard with lutefisk until I reminded him that I’m Norwegian and it’s the food of my people. I would feast on his now-downtrodden nature until we arrived at our location.
Upon arriving I had absolutely zero problem with the setting and felt quite comfortable among the other folks that graced our presence. I was wearing my “Haunted Mansion” shirt since I had just come from work so I felt a bit out of place as almost everyone else was in formal wear; I’m an engineer and a teacher so I’m allowed to wear whatever I please each day, luckily. I managed to find some kind of brotherhood (sisterhood?) in another patron as she had on Halloween garb and we discussed both Halloween and the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I heckled her roundly to the joy of her mother who was also in attendance; she was quite cute and had a great sense of humor but that’s beyond the focus of this post.
The dinner was for the most part uneventful. I made fun of Halloween Girl quite a bit and we enjoyed each other’s company. When thinking about it as this point I really should have gotten her number. I finished up dinner with my buddy and his folks and we went outside.
While walking around outside I found all kinds of interesting tables filled with either Norwegian history or culture. The ones that didn’t have some kind of Viking collectibles had trinkets from places of interest. Behind each table was a knowledgeable person with some kind of story to tell.
At one point during my journey I happened across one unassuming table. As I was leaving the person who was manning the table noticed my “Haunted Mansion” shirt. She and I struck up a conversation and she told me she was in attendance during Disneyland’s opening day in 1955.
Anyone who knows me can confirm that I’m a huge Disneyland fan and pride myself on knowing all kinds of things about it. Could I really luck out more than meeting someone who was there during opening day and getting the low-down from a first-hand account? She and I talked for about a half-hour and it was one of the best conversations I’d ever had about the park.
I’m sure you can see what’s coming here. As my friend had to take off I unwittingly left my source. I was already in the car and pulling away before I realized just how badly I had screwed myself.
I still kick myself when I think just what kind of information I could have pulled from her. I easily could have spent another three or four hours talking to her as well as regaling my own stories from the park to her. That is easily one of my biggest regrets and I unfortunately didn’t realize it until it was too late.
Some regrets are preventable and yet others are contextual to the point where you don’t realize you’re leaving a good thing until it’s already too late. The trick is to realize when it’s salvageable or when you have to put in extra work to prevent yourself from leaving a good thing. Sometimes, though, you can’t prevent yourself from leaving a great source or a great conversation and you’ll regret it for quite some time.