I’ve started reading a book called “The Midnight Library” by my favorite author, Matt Haig. It’s about a 35 year old woman who decides to kill herself because nothing in her life is going right, and she feels she isn’t needed by anyone. But before she actually dies, she’s in between life and death- in a place called the Midnight Library. In there, she is handed a book by the librarian called the Book of Regrets. It’s filled with all the regrets she’s had from birth to age 35 when she decides to end her life. After looking through this book, she is told by the librarian that she’s able to read through all the endless books in this library and try on every life she could’ve lived if she had made other choices… This prompts the question: if you could live a different life than the one you have now, would you have done anything different if you had the chance to undo all your regrets?
I’d like to think that I don’t live with regrets. I’d like to think that there hasn’t been a single thing that has kept me up at night. I’d like to think that I’ve made choices that have let me live without questioning how something would be if I had made a different choice.
The truth is though, that’s a lie. I do have regrets. We all have regrets. And if someone says they don’t, they’re full of shit because whether they know it or not, they do have regrets… just like me.
The thing is, I try to not linger on these regrets. I acknowledge them. I see them. I recognize the decisions I’ve made to have the outcome that I did have. I’ve made peace with those decisions.
Weirdly enough, there is one regret that I think will nag me until the day I die, and it’s so minimal. When I left Philly in 2017, I didn’t have any room left in my car (I drove across the country back home), so I sacrificed a box of my books and movies. I still regret it to this day. I wish I could’ve somehow made more room in my car to bring them. There were a few things in there that couldn’t be replaced. A few being some choir performance DVDs, and a quote book my mother gave me and wrote inside of it. That hurts a lot. There have been many times in the past that I considered getting in contact with the person I left behind and ask him to mail me these items. But I realized that would be completely unrealistic, given the circumstances and choices I made to leave, and how the relationship broke. It just wasn’t possible. And as sad as it makes me, I made the decision to leave those things behind. So yes, I do regret that. A lot.
I can’t say I regret anyone I had a relationship with. Even with the former person mentioned above. He was terrible, but there was a reason I was with him. I did love him with all my heart at one point, so there was no regret there. Even in the moments that would become the darkest parts of my life, looking back, I don’t regret them. They shaped me into who I am and made me wiser and stronger. I need that strength and wisdom as I continue moving forward in my life. But what if I had chosen to not move across the country to be with him? How would my life be like now? There are endless possibilities as to what my life could’ve turned out to be.
When you really stop and think about your existence, it’s literally a series of decisions and choices. Sometimes I believe we’re living in a simulation and someone is controlling us from their computer. We’re just like the characters living in The Sims. Someone is making the decisions for me. Who knows though. But I don’t really actively think about how I’m making decisions every moment throughout my day and night, it just sort of happens. But I chose to write this blog post. I’ve chosen to watch The Great British Bake Off for the past week. Tonight, I chose to order macarons from my favorite local cafe (I wish I had an endless supply of those). Isn’t that wild? We’re just like a computer game. Task after task. Choice after choice. Who’s clicking around and making these choices for us?
Really though it’s us.
When you make a choice, it’s influenced by the circumstances you’re in, as well as what you’re feeling. Logic and emotional mind come into play. Sometimes choices are made more emotionally than logically, and vice versa. I’ve made plenty of emotional decisions that I later wished I hadn’t. Sometimes those decisions were able to be reconciled, like a reset/undo button. I’ve made logical choices where I’ve had to turn off my emotions. Those decisions are difficult for me personally. But then there are decisions I’ve made that I know logically are for my own good, but my emotional self is overflowing. Those decisions are hard to make, and I often push them aside and pretend they don’t exist. But they always do, they never die. Eventually they come back up to the surface to breathe. They steal away your breath to get your attention. These kinds of decisions just suck, plain and simple.
My attention to the decisions that encompass my life are heightened. I always overthink whatever it is that is yelling at me for my attention. I’ve never been good at making decisions. I often look to others to do the dirty work for me. Deep down, I usually know what it is I need to do though, but I still look for advice and the “what would you do?” type things from others. I second-guess myself. I underestimate myself. I doubt my abilities to make my own decisions. So instead, I choose to just stay in a kind of stasis so I can just avoid making a choice to do anything. That’s where I’m at right now.
I don’t want to be reckless with my decisions. It’s scary making a choice, not knowing what will happen or where it will lead you. I’m walking that path right now, alone… which was another decision I made: to walk this path alone. I sometimes wonder if that was the right thing to do. It felt like the right thing to do. In the grand scheme of things, I’ll never really know if it was the right thing to do, will I? Endless choices, remember? There’s a million ways that decision could’ve gone. It’s all so uncertain. Reality is uncertain for all of us, but I feel like some are more aware of that than others.
It’s like walking alone in a vast desert- not a single soul in sight. Or walking alone in a dark forest with a small torch- nobody to be found. It’s scary and I’m unsure of what lies ahead. I’m walking along the beach alone, not a sound to be heard except the roaring waves beside me. Only my footprints exist in the sand… and I have no idea where I’m going. I’m supposed to be walking ahead. But right now, I’ve decided to just sit there in the sand and wait for a miracle. Perhaps the miracle is me being influenced (by myself/someone/something) to stand up again. It’s lonely here at times, I won’t lie.
I believe in miracles. I believe things happen for a reason- good or bad. I don’t know what’s to come. I’m afraid and yet I’m numb. There is no excitement. The world is grey in my view.
I’m not ready to visit the Midnight Library. But while I’m alive now, I can still wonder about all the lives I could’ve lived, had I made different choices. Perhaps I can still live those lives. I can ponder the choices I’ve made that have led me up to this moment as I type this. These are the decisions I’m making.
I’m choosing to exist. I’m choosing to look back. I’m choosing to remain still. I’m choosing to not look ahead.
However, I’m not choosing the emotions I’m feeling right now. Those will wash over me as they please.
Some things are out of our control.
Are we ever really free?