I recently read a novel about living with regrets and how making different decisions throughout your life can affect the bigger picture. It got me thinking about my “regrets.” Truthfully, I am satisfied with where my life has landed me, but if asked what I wish I had done differently, two things immediately pop into my head.
First: I wanted to join the Peace Corps. I even went so far as to apply, interview, and get an assignment. But when a health issue affected my start, I let that end the whole process for me. I sometimes wish I had gotten through my (fairly minor) situation and then tried again. Perhaps I could have even gotten the same assignment…(I was supposed to teach English in the Caribbean!)
Second: I “regret” I married someone who has no interest in travel (or really in vacationing much at all). I grew up in a family that took an annual vacation (even if it was just to a local campsite or a beach a couple of hours away), and my grandfather enabled us to travel internationally a few times when I was growing up. My husband (aside from living in Puerto Rico for part of his childhood) has never traveled outside of the US and has never been on a cruise.
I wonder sometimes what two years teaching on a Caribbean island would have been like. Would it have humbled me? Would I have never wanted to leave, or conversely, would I have been miserable? Surely my life would not have followed even a similar trajectory had I gone into the Peace Corps. I would not have spent a year teaching in Florida. I probably would not have stayed with my then-boyfriend/now-husband, which means I never would have moved to Georgia, Tennessee, or Iowa, and therefore wouldn’t know any of the people who are so important to me now. I would not have my daughter, who is quite possibly the coolest person I’ve ever met. So yes, I wonder what it would have been like, but no, I don’t regret the decision I made not to follow through.
Regarding my husband, who I love very much… I often wish he would relax a little and be more willing to do things (and I don’t feel bad putting this out into the world because he knows this already!), but I understand his feelings. He’s seen how family members have been affected by being too frivolous and doesn’t want that to happen to us. His primary objective, the way he shows that he cares, is to provide for us now so we can hopefully flourish in the future. We do try to make annual visits to see family (who fortunately live on the beach). We keep memberships to the zoo and aquarium. So it isn’t as if we are homebound. He takes care of me and loves our daughter more than life itself. Perhaps we will travel a little more one day, but I don’t regret choosing this man as my life partner for a second.
The main points of the book I read were trying to live your life to the fullest without regretting the decisions you make and recognizing that small things can make a big difference. With those things in mind: be happy, be kind, and live the life you want to live.