Earlier today I had the pleasure of reading a post on Regret. I recommend you check it out, because it’s quite insightful, and even though I’m about to talk about regret too, I’ll never tell you that I have all the answers or that you’re better off following my path than someone else’s.
But as far as I’m concerned, I have few regrets. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I’m bound to make a lot more, but so far, I can name on one hand the times where I look back and say, “I shouldn’t have done this.”
The fact is that if you’re sitting here today as an accomplished professional in any field, you’re here both in spite and because of those mistakes. If you’re wishing that you had done more, then that’s because your mistakes have taught you you’re capable of a lot that you haven’t done yet. Either way, it’s never too late to start (or continue) down the road you’ve always dreamt of walking.
Take me, for example. Five years ago, I was utterly alone, clinically depressed, and trapped in an abusive relationship. I wrote for myself, in what spare time I had, and even though I always said to myself, “I want to be a writer,” I never got around to actually trying to be one.
A little over one year ago, I sat back in my chair and thought, “What a life I’ve lead, and who knows about it? What have I got to show for all that I’ve been through? Those naysayers who said I wouldn’t be a writer… am I going to sit back and let myself prove them right?”
So I began seeking publishing. Before I continue: if you’re just setting out as a writer and have yet to receive any acceptances, keep in mind that my story, while a little more common now in the days of the independent press, is still rare.
It only took me a few weeks for one particularly great publication company to write me back and say, “You know what? We liked this piece and want it in our August ezine” (Not an exact quote, but that’s the spirit of it). Since then I’ve published over a dozen short stories, am working to revise my first novel (which has a tentative “Yes pending revisions” for publishing), am currently writing my second (and more shorts in the down time) and that’s not to mention what editing work I do here and there.
I do, to put it simply, a damn lot of things. I have an advantage of not really having a job, so I do have a lot more time than many, but even an hour of writing a day will eventually yield a novel.
I may go through periods of moody rumination over what I’ve done or let people do to me, but looking back on my past year- on the decisions I’ve made for myself, on the things I’ve done that I know were right- I’ve turned those mistakes into fuel. I’ve made every wrong decision worth it.
I’ve made every wrong decision right.
So remember, Travelers, that life really is what you make of it. No matter how twisted it is, you can always prove the master of the path you take (and all that walking is great exercise). You can’t always choose not to make a mistake, but you can choose not to regret.
Make the most of what you have, because being miserable isn’t going to make things any better.
May the wind be at your back,