Crazy chicks, frozen tongues and regrets, lots of regrets
Anybody who reads this column regularly (both of you) and is considering joining me in the radical middle Ė the place where common sense and discussion mean more than scare tactics and mindless convictions Ė should know something ahead of time: there are a lot of regrets here. Theyíre everywhere. Theyíre like crazy chicks in a Michael Douglas film; you just canít get away from them.
I regret something every single day of my life. Whether itís taking the wrong street, ordering the wrong meal, saying the wrong thing, failing to talk to that cute girl, sleeping in, not sleeping enough, etc. etc., I canít imagine going an hour Ė let alone a day Ė without having at least one and as many as six thousand regrets. But I donít see anything wrong with that. In fact, I view it as not only a healthy but an essential part of being a functioning human in contemporary society.
The word itself Ė regret Ė comes with all this baggage and all these negative connotations, but really all itís saying is that you recognize how a different course of action would have been somehow better. Even if itís relatively insignificant, as most of them are, the point is that you recognized it. And hereís the thing; if you canít do that, you better throw out any hope of ever growing as a person.
I hate those people who say they donít have any regrets. I hate them. Seriously, if youíve ever said that, and meant it, then I hope you pale in a vicious accident (preferably one involving a handsaw and some unstable dynamite). Claiming youíve never regretted a single thing in your entire life is absurd to the point of being offensive. What youíre really saying is that youíre infallible, that no matter how wrongly you chose itís somehow right simply because you chose it. Donít get me wrong; Iím all for personal accountability, but that doesnít give me a priori instinct that means every path I choose is a righteous one. Iím lucky if I go 20 minutes without screwing up and Ė you know what Ė so are you, even if you pretend otherwise.
I mean, isnít the whole idea of life that itís an evolving process where you learn as you go? Sometimes itís debilitating, to be sure, but nobody among us (with the possible exception of MacGyver) was born with the faculties to go through life always choosing correctly, always doing the right thing.
I think what really bothers me about this kind of thinking is to watch the manifestations of this very high form of arrogance in our public figureheads. If our governing officials admitted their mistakes once in awhile, if they took accountability for their actions and apologized when they screwed up, that would take a lot of the cynicism and senseless squabbling out of the whole process. I would be infinitely more willing to put my trust in someone who does what they think is right but has the wisdom to admit when theyíre wrong, rather than someone who sticks to their convictions like a human tongue to an Antarctic flagpole. And Iím not talking exclusively about the Bush administration here, Iím talking about pretty much every governing body in the history of the world.
It goes beyond politics, though, as it often does in the radical middle. If people as a general rule lowered their faÁade of trying to be cool once in awhile, if honesty was rewarded more than the appearance of being right, weíd all be more apt to admit mistakes, personal defeats, and laugh about regrets. I donít care how Dr. Phil it sounds, being a decent person means being as honest with yourself as you know how to be.
Itís really not that difficult of a procedure Ė just admit that you fuck up once in awhile, thatís all. But do it soon, cause the next person that tells me they donít have any regrets is getting an ice pick in the jaw.
Letters from the Radical Middle is a bi-weekly column that encourages discussion over pointless bickering, favoring common sense and a logical middle ground over blind political devotion. Brian Clark is the Managing Editor of the Spokane Sidekick and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, feedback is encouraged.