My grandma died this morning. Now it feels like a stupid excuse when I write that I planned to return her call today. She called me two days ago but I didn’t pick up because I was at work. I didn’t want to have to face the ridicule I would have subjected myself to if my co-workers heard me speaking in her native language which I sucked at.
Thank God I was driving alone when my mom broke this to me because I needed to cry this one. So I let the tears flow in synchronicity with the rain that was falling (why does it always rain when someone important dies)
I cried mostly because I was going to return her call today. But I could have picked up when she called. I could have called her yesterday. This kind of regret is why the but-she-was-old consolation isn’t much consolation.
And that is regret #1.
I initially started this article yesterday and the title was supposed to be Three Regrets and Two Lessons. And it was supposed to read this way:
I stood in front of him while he sat down to listen. It was usually the other way around- I sitting in the audience and him on the stage. Sometimes, I read his articles online. Sometimes I would see a flyer, a poster or an online ad with his face on the left side of the advert. This time around I was in front of him telling him all the things we shared in common- my fascination with behavioral psychology and Neuro linguistic programming. A few mentalism and card tricks later, we had exchanged numbers. He seemed rather disappointed that I hadn’t at least emailed him to invite him for one of the events I organized last year. You see, at the HighLifer launch party he was that one person I wanted to attend, to share my idea with, and to somehow mentor me. I looked at his calendar(it was publicly available at that time) and saw he was busy. Why email? Someone like that gets a lot of more important emails. And that was Regret #2
A few years ago, I got a job offer from one of biggest companies in the world. It was Google. I had just taken a promising job with another multinational; a 6-month contract with Google had its uncertainties. So I dangled the offer letter in front of Leonard Stiegeler, who had hired me, while asking for a pay raise. Should I have taken the job? Regret #3
At the age of 8 years old, I had started taking classical piano lessons. Unlike most people, I enjoyed the classes immensely. It was particularly interesting watching as I got better. A piece starts really complex, I feel like I will never ever ever play it. Two weeks later, it’s like a nursery rhyme. Easy peasy. When it was time to choose the course I wanted to study in Uni, I wasn’t bold enough to tell my parents I wanted to study Music. So I went with the bold and utterly ambitious choice, Medicine. I studied Music up till it was time for the West African Examination Council papers and I could not hang on anymore. Up till now I have interesting ideas for what I could/would do with music. Up till now, I still peak at Hans Zimmer’s scores(I wrote my own scores up till about 5 years ago). Regret #4.
There are different types and classes of regret. We all have them. But I have learned two major lessons from the most painful of them.
When it comes to many types actions and decisions, I have learned to assess my inhibitions by weighing what I would gain if I succeeded, what I would lose if I didn’t try. That’s my definition of Risk Assessment. My life is splattered with many good intentions. I intend more than ever living with those intentions. Just do it!, says the Nike slogan and I will remember.
Staying in the moment
While we have those regrets, it’s not wise or meaningful to live in those regrets. There are opportunities, always opportunities, to right wrongs. Looking back to the past has a hold on our feet and moving forward becomes a drag. Sometimes it’s just better to untangle regrets and press forward to those good intentions.
Easier said, I still wish I had made that call. But moving on, I am realigning my priorities when it comes to relationships, especially with family. I am particularly glad that I made the unusual decision to travel all the way to my grandma’s last year to spend two days with her. Something I had never done before.
The absolutely vital thing is to become capable of enjoyment, of living in the present, and of the discipline which this involves- Alan Watt