Saturday, September 27, 2008


"The funny thing about regret is it's better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven't done." - The Butthole Surfers "Sweat Loaf"

Friday I hung out with a friend I hadn't seen since the mid-90's. It was nice to see Bella, and I look forward to doing so again next time she and her beau visit from Denver. However, the first time I see someone I haven't seen in a long time, I start to get into a nostalgic mood -- and with nostalgia, comes regret.

Bella was part of a group of friends that included my ex-girlfriend Beth. While my relationship with Beth was doomed to fail for a variety of reasons, and my breaking up with her was inevitable, the way in which I broke up with her is one of the stupidest, worst things I've ever done. Twenty-three year olds are prone to being stupid, particularly about relationships, and I was no exception. She has never communicated with me again, and thus I've never been able to apologize. I regret having dumped her in a letter, without calling, and for the truly idiotic reasons I gave for ending the relationship.

But, the Butthole Surfers are right -- it is better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done. While I regret the way that relationship ended, and also that with two of my other previous girlfriends, those pale in comparison to how much I regret not seeing my grandmother again before she died. That is the one thing I regret the most in my life. I had reasons for not seeing her: I couldn't deal with seeing someone who'd always being so strong on her deathbed, and I tried to convince her (and myself) that the treatments would work and there was no urgency to the matter anyway. Sure, I talked to her on the phone several times, but I refused to go see her. My mother claims she understood and loved me all the same, and with all my grandmother had seen in her life (which included 16 years in labor and DP camps), I suspect that she really did -- but I have never been able to forgive myself (and I probably never will, so don't bother with any comments intended to be helpful in that regard). My inability to confront death head-on continues to plague me, but it hasn't caused any worse remorse than this incident.

That is the funny thing about regret, after all. Who knew Gibby Haynes was such a sage? So my advice to everyone out there is this: do everything you can do, because one time you don't do something because you choose not to, that'll be the worst regret you ever have.