I recently read a novel where one of the characters comes to the conclusion that she chose the life she would regret the least. Her voice acknowledged that one tends to romanticize the life (or lives) one doesn't choose. She goes on to say that all choices contain regret, but the one we can live with...that's the one we end up "sealing the deal" with. As I read this, I had to stop. You know, because it's one of those moments in a novel that end up hitting home in a poignant way and pack a subjective powerful punch. The words convey some abstract meaning you've felt or "known" but you haven't quite expressed it verbally to yourself yet. And...there it is - a form of synchronicity; a whisper saying "here's your answer."
I grew up hearing the saying "no looking back, no regrets" from another fictional tale. I've weaved the theme and words into one of my own fictional stories. I've tried to live by its meaning and sometimes I do. But at times I do what most of us humans do. I reflect and ponder about the "other" choice I didn't make and the life (or lives) that could have been. I romanticize those lives, thinking of the "good stuff" that would have been and the feelings of fulfillment I might have felt. I imagine I might have been "happier," whatever "happier" really means. Then I realize I couldn't have made that choice. In fact, I didn't make it for a very good reason - regret. I chose a different life, a different path I felt would be less regretful. I experience my current life, my current choice and realize "happiness" is here, too. It comes and goes, like it would with any existence and path. But what matters is that I can live with my lessons and the choices I make feel good. Not the type of "feel good" that gives you an exuberant high; the type you can wake up with and go to bed with every night. It's the type you feel no attachment to. It's different than contentment and freedom, but they're the closest words I can find.
Whatever it is, I feel it. I feel it with my life as I choose to remain in my current position at work, while continuing to pursue my writing the best I can. I feel it with my choice to remain close to my family and start working on the rooms in my basement. I feel it as I teach myself a new writing form in preparation for an internship application. I also feel it as I continue to implement my life's "project period contract." I feel it as I let go of expectations and begin to feel comfortable saying "no." I feel less regret over not choosing the "other" and realize with very little doubt that the choices I make are what I would have chosen anyway.
So even though the saying of "no looking back, no regrets" is just an understanding of a desired state, the edges of its meaning are still a possibility. Maybe we accomplish it. And maybe we see awe in what we're conscious of without wondering why what couldn't be isn't real.