To risk is a hard thing to do; I like comfort and stability as much as the next person. But what is life if we don't push ourselves? if we don't live it? I mean, if you're not changing, you're just about dead. I think so, anyway. And then, once you're dead, you start changing again, your body turning itself back into earth.
Who lives a life free from mistakes? And who would want to? That level of comfort, of mastery, doesn't exist outside of absurd caution. If I don't take a fall when I'm skiing, I'm not pushing my limits, I'm not learning to be a better skier than I am. I'm learning to be more competent at the same level. I can ski a black diamond with joy in good conditions, but stick to the blues on days when the snow is dense and thick and wet or when all the black runs are moguled up. I'm hoping to push myself this winter, even though I have an intense dislike (a fear, even?) of falling.
"Sometimes, when I'm skiing and I feel myself getting tense and cautious," said a friend last winter, "I'll get going really fast and fall on purpose, just to remind myself that it doesn't hurt."
This isn't always true in life. Sometimes mistakes hurt like the devil. And emotional or mental pain hurts me more than a physical pain, any day. But if I could go back and do those painful things again, I wouldn't change a thing. Who I am is intimately bound up in the choices I've made and the experiences I've had. Yeah, it sucked to have a crush on a guy and have that scare the b'jeezus out of him, so much that he couldn't even spend time in a room with me and all of our friends. And, damn, was I pissed. But what I learned from that is immense. Now I know that I can risk and get hurt and keep breathing. And I know that next time (because there's always a next time) it won't be so bad. (And in practice, I found this to be true.) You couldn't pay me enough to erase that from my memory, from who I have become, who I am becoming, the way I move through the world . . .
I guess the way I see it is this. Every experience, good or bad, shapes who I become. It teaches me a lesson and helps me know how to be better in the future. As I see it, if I regret something, I am saying that I am unsatisfied with the person I have become, the person I am becoming, and that's a position I'm unwilling to hold.
If I regret something, I'm thinking about it wrong. If I regret it, I haven't learned from it, I haven't made constructive use of it. If I'm not learning from my mistakes, I'm wasting them. And, I suppose, that's the only pure mistake I can imagine.
Return to thoughts and musings.
Read between the lines
© 1999 Rosa Carson