I learned that in a survey when old people (I’m middle-aged, if I live to 150, so they must be really old) were asked about their “regrets,” that most regretted things they did not do rather than things they wished they had not done. Of course, these were people who survived their stupid mistakes, but still . . ..
Lately Kim and I have been discussing regrets about the Big Thing that we recently did: uprooting ourselves from our rather comfortable life in Florida, surrounded by family and friends, and from our life in Southeast Michigan, ditto, to move to Traverse City. We know why it was the “right” decision, when we think with our brains: The drive is too long to do twice a year, the two homes too expensive, the far-away home too worrisome, and we need to make the change while we are still ambulatory enough for the rigors of the moves, as documented earlier in this blog. Since Florida’s summers are so unbearably hot and humid (only so many clothes you can take off), Michigan got the nod. And a couple of visits to Traverse City – admittedly, in the beautiful summer – gave Northern Michigan the nod over our familiar Ann Arbor area. So here we are.
That’s our brains talking. But when we think with our hearts, we are not so sure. We miss our family and friends, and texting and the telephone can only go so far. We’ve had a few visitors so far, but we don’t as yet have people who will stop by for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, or who will want to go for a walk or photograph birds or landscapes. Our best friends up here so far are the waiters and shopkeepers downstairs from our condo – but that’s not the same. We will meet people at the local Audubon meeting tonight, and Friday Kim is taking an Art and Socializing class downstairs, featuring wine and snacks, and that will probably lead to new connections. My closest friends are the ones in my computer whom I imagine reading this blog. These are known as “imaginary friends.”
Our sense of regret is not the same as thinking or feeling that we made a mistake. And maybe it’s not regret that we are experiencing, but the pain of transition. So much new stuff to learn, so many new attachments to grow, and we are not as young, flexible and attachable as we used to be. We are convinced, perhaps mistakenly, that we are the kind of people that others will want to befriend – last night we had wine and stew with a new friend, Mike. And we are blessed by the companionship we find in each other.
So rather than chewing over possible regrets about what we have done, let’s reduce our regret by turning our attention to the stuff we have not done yet. Time to get that house designed and built on Torch Lake! Time to finally meet Penny June in Albuquerque. To find and photograph that Snowy Owl. To make reservations for our Valentine’s dinner. To see the bird migration at Whitefish Point. To attend weddings.
As always, comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any regrets you'd like to share?