I used to say I didn’t believe in regrets. I was even haughty enough to expand that thought, saying that if you lived the best life you were capable of each moment, if you made decisions based on integrity, regrets were an impossibility. I suppose I still believe that. Except now I have one.
Last night the exit to my house was closed, and the one after that. And even the next one. I ended up getting off at 28th Street, down in the shipyards. It was a misty San Diego night. Late enough to only see a few people out on the road. Tiny houses dotted the eastern slope. To the west, a huge ship loomed out of the fog. Lit up, it hovered in dry dock like a specter. I bit my lip and chewed my fingernails to hell.
That my off-ramp had been closed was irritating. That I was in a section of San Diego that I had never before seen, that was only three miles from where I lived, was disconcerting. Disembodied and fretting, I both wished I had my camera AND I wanted to get out there. There I was, a stranger in a familiar land, a familiar in a strange land. Here I am.
The experience itself didn’t necessarily stir up the cold waters of my consciousness. But today there was a maelstrom. A distinct shift in the way that I’ve been viewing something. Today I tasted it, and choked on it, too. Regret.
There is no symbol for regret. Apparently this emotion is much less mystical and more clear cut than love. Dictionaries attribute its origin to different times, different progenitor languages. Some attribute it to French, German, Old English. Earliest usage began around 1300. Regardless, each of the origins convey the sense of a deep loss, intense sorrow, and disappointment. Oddly enough, guilt only offers a slight patina to most definitions.
The onset of regret is like emerging from a state of altered consciousness and into someone’s fist. Savage horror. Stinging shock. It is the realization that you have fundamentally and irrevocably fucked something up. There is no return or recovery. Only apologies, acceptance. A moving forward.
The road in the picture belongs to Croatia, a land of duality and complexity. At the moment, it feels like a totem, a symbol. There is a point of origin and destination, a storm rolling in from the mountains, and yet blue sky peaking through. Somewhere out there is humanity, the potential to get lost, to be found. To find yourself. It is the journey. The bright moments and the darkness can only be determined by each of us.