But for the most part, I'm where I am today as a result of the decisions I've made; some which simply seemed like the best choice at the time and others that I'm pretty darn proud. I don't have much time for the "shoulda, woulda, coulda" nature of regrets. As much as I'm sure we'd all like to fiddle a little with our past, in the end, all any of us can do is deal what we have at our disposal at this very moment.
You know, carpe dium and all of that crap.
But during the summer months, when I head back to work full time, I become plagued with regrets. Regrets of a very specific nature:
I am always so sad to miss it. Always.
When you only work full-time 24 months out of the year, additional days off have less than great fiscal results. (Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, eh?) And when you work weekends and just happen to be the only employee at your work place, you end up with one inflexible work schedule. (Swap shifts, what?) It doesn't matter how far in advance you send your "Save the Date" card; if your special event happens on a weekend during the months of May - October, chances are, I won't be able to celebrate with you. (Btw: whatever happened to December weddings? I hear they're lovely *hint, hint, nudge, nudge*)
I was listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation earlier this month, when Jennifer Ludden talked with Charles Wheelan about his 10 Things You Won't Hear At Commencement. (If you haven't bumped into this list somewhere on the internets already, it's worth checking out.) In the essay, Wheelan points out that the most valuable time we spend at college probably isn't doing homework or attending classes, but instead is time we spend connecting with our peers over extracurriculars and building friendships that will extend well beyond our college days. At the end of the day, our social connections will add much more value to our lives than the number on the right side of our pay checks.
But we Americans have sneaky habit of valuing work out over friendship. As Wheelan (or some caller) pointed out in the interview, we wouldn't think twice about canceling a coffee date if we needed to work overtime at work. But cancel work for a coffee date? Ha!
Even though my hands feel tied when it comes stealing away from work during the summer months, it gnaws at me that work always get the upper hand. When I send my regrets, it feels unavoidable and inevitable and yes, regrettable. . . to me. But how does it feel to the recipient of my regrets?
I worry that when I send my regrets, I'm sending more than just a response to an invitation. I worry that I'm also sending a message to the sender that their friendship doesn't mean enough to me for me to clear time in my schedule to attend. Busy schedules excuse absences for a bit, but when you consistently miss friends' big days? It's enough to make us all wonder where my priorities truly lie.
So no, I don't have any regrets, except the ones I'll be sending to your baby shower, bridal shower, anniversary party, birthday party, wedding ceremony, bar mitzah, (etc. etc.) over the next five months.
And in so many ways, those are the very worst kind of regrets a person can have.