Saturday, April 16, 2022

"Regret And Dread – Two Problems You Don’t Really Have To Have"

"Regret And Dread –
Two Problems You Don’t Really Have To Have"
by John Wilder

"I tend to like writing my Friday posts the most. Why? Most generally, I get away from the reality of the present situations that we are living in. That’s nice. Why do I feel like I can do this? Because nothing is done yet, and nothing is settled yet. I’ve written posts about regret. I still feel that regret is a wasted emotion – the past is done. Of course, I try to learn from my mistakes. But I can’t spend my life being upset about them. The real question is how can I incorporate the mistakes so I have a better future? I even told The Mrs. that she should embrace her mistakes, too. She was so happy she hugged me.

Especially of note are those mistakes I made that weren’t mistakes I made based on a lack of virtue. If I did the right thing, for the right reason, the result is the result, and I will live with the consequences. Sometimes bad things happen when you do everything right. I mean, when the doctor told me I had a rare disease, I asked, “How rare?” “Well, you get to pick a name.” Those are the breaks.

A similar emotion is dread. I read a quote when I was a kid – Heinlein? Twain? A fever dream while on laudanum writing about Xanadu? – that stuck with me. “Worrying about what might happen is paying interest on money you haven’t borrowed yet.” It’s a good quote. Regret is looking at the past, dread (or its cousin, fear) is about looking at the future. But they’re the same. Neither of those two things are real. One once was real, and one might be real.

I’ll admit that when I look out at the future, I do see dark days ahead. But right now, I’m sitting in my basement, The Mrs. had gone upstairs for sleep, the basement is perfectly comfy, and all is right with the world. Something might happen next week. Next month. Next year. The price of tires is up. The price of gasoline is up. Heck, Hunter Biden can’t even find decent meth nowadays. It will get worse.

So? I think that often we are more upset by the thought of potential future discomfort than actual, present discomfort. It can be consuming, and all for something that hasn’t happened yet. And, it used to be me. I used to do the math – how many months could I make mortgage payments if I lost my job? How many days could I feed my family? And, it’s one thing planning for that, but I was also sometimes scared.

Until one day I just decided to not be scared – I’d go through life and do my best, and let the chips fall where they may. I decided that it was fine to plan, it was fine to economize to save money, but it wasn’t fine to worry. So I stopped.

It was weird – one night I was worried, and the next night I decided that I wasn’t going to worry anymore. I just made the conscious decision I wasn’t going to worry anymore about that. It was the last significant worry that I gave up. I also worried about my short attention span, but that problem seems to solve itself. And it’s not like I live in a world where bad things don’t happen. I know bad things happen – horrible things. But today, I can choose not to worry about them.

Heck, I can pick something that is real and we can be certain that is going to happen – death. The shadow of death looms above us all. But to be consumed by it so that it causes a life lived in fear? That’s like already being dead. It might surprise some people, but death is something that isn’t new. Seneca, the (very dead) Roman stoic philosopher, said: “No man can have a peaceful life who thinks too much about lengthening it. Most men ebb and flow in wretchedness between the fear of death and the hardships of life; they are unwilling to live, and yet they do not know how to die.”

Reflect on death – if you knew that you wouldn’t wake up ever again, what would you do with your remaining hours? This reflection on death has multiple values to you and your character:

• It reinforces that which is important to us, here today.
• It exposes the frivolous that consume too much of our time.
• It shows what’s really of value – the money you made will be less important than the lives you’ve changed.
• You don’t have to worry about returning that library book.

Today is pretty good. Enjoy it. Skip the regret, the worry, and the dread. While you’re breathing, live. What can you make happen today?"

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