Regret is an interesting emotion. As you get older you might be forgiven for having accumulated a net full of regrets that you’ve trawled along behind you all your life. But then the net would get heavier and more onerous to haul in with time. Better to release the captive disappointments somehow and allow them to drift away.
Of course some regrets are entirely trivial, and the wrong decision can be rectified in a short time. Ill-advised haircuts, that last glass of wine, holidays with family members, vitriolic emails-the repercussions of all of these do not last for long. Last week I regretted my lack of speed in capturing a pine marten crossing the road with a limp stoat dangling from his jaws! More serious decisions like career choices, partners, buying a home can be a source of regret for ever.
Twenty years ago I made a momentous [for me], life changing decision that had a profound and lasting effect. At the time someone very close warned me I would regret this decision the whole of my life, and yet I have always considered this one choice to be the very best decision I ever made. Sometimes you just have to take a leap into the unknown, take a gamble-and then accept the consequences, whatever.
Amongst the circulating emails and Facebook spam that floods on to our screens there is often a set of images of historic products-items you might have used as a child. There is a fleeting, misty nostalgia to these pictures, prompting you to say, ‘Whatever happened to ‘Spangles’, or ‘Do you remember ‘Loxene’ shampoo?’-but we don’t seriously want to turn back the clock. ‘Loxene’ shampoo was little better than washing up liquid, and if ‘Spangles’ still tasted good they’d still be on sale-as Mars bars are today.
I don’t doubt that some aspects of life were better fifty years ago, like children playing outside, not getting obese, less cars on the road etc. But who would want to go back to that time? There were no machines to do all the dirty work. My mother had a ‘copper’ that she boiled the washing in and then put it all through a mangle! I don’t think we had a fridge for some years. There was a cold slab in the pantry and a ‘meat safe’ like a cage to keep flies off.
So I believe it’s ok to wallow in a touch of nostalgia now and again, but better on the whole to look forwards, live life to the most full you can and do the ‘carpe diem’ thing. Then one day, [if I should live long enough to be immobile or even more demented than I am already] I shall be able to look at photos and dwell on memories with nostalgia but without regret-that is if I am able to recognise anyone or anything by then!
Loved this article, Grace. I agree with you about products that are no longer available – there is a reason they were less successful. Tudor Crisps. They were very adventurous with their flavours, but probably too extreme for the palates of the 70s (Hot Dog & Mustard flavour springs to mind). So nostalgia has its place. Will we look back in, say, 20 years’ time, as we lie in our individual ePods watching multiple media feeds via a ‘thin film 3D surround screen’ or through personal ‘neural interfaces’, and reminisce about the time we had to use several remote controls to operate all our devices!?
I also wonder whether, in years to come, I will regret the decisions I am making today – each choice I make now creating a fork in the road map of my life. Mostly the conclusion I reach is that I will regret those things I fail to do, not the decisions to do something that may not prove to be right – your ‘carpe diem’ thing. But luckily I have the predisposition to shed my baggage as I go, and don’t usually trawl, with one or two important exceptions.
Thanks for your visit and comment! Myself I seem to remember the successful decisions and conveniently forget the times I bombed! 😉