The Inevitabilities of Love and Regret

by David King on September 6, 2010

Eight years ago, I wrote the following: “Regret is a completely unnecessary feeling in life.”

I lied.

My reasoning behind this statement went something like this: Follow your heart, do what you feel is right in the moment, and doing so will essentially prevent regret, so long as such philosophy remains at the forefront of your thoughts. This may be an ideal, but it has (seemingly) worked well for me for the past decade. What I have learned in the past couple of months, however, is that no matter the extent of dedication to one’s gut reactions or “heart,” regret is still very possible and in some cases (like NOW), it is all-consuming. I do not say this lightly, for my dedication to the ideal was quite solid and unwavering. Nevertheless, I now find myself in a situation where regret is all I feel; where acting on my gut reaction was, in hindsight, a terrible error.

Following one’s heart is still a piece of advice I’d be willing to hand out, but what are its limits? Where does it end? At what point does one sacrifice decency and respect for what feels right in the moment? What is the real cost of this reasoning? I have learned that the cost can be enormous. The cost can be everything you ever wanted even when you forgot it, or somehow let yourself overlook it. The real cost, ironically, can be love itself. In my attempt to avoid regret, to do what feels right in the moment, I may have lost the one thing that I have always wanted the most.

The truth is, one should never sacrifice decency in the name of avoiding regret, for it is in doing so that the greatest regrets are born. In decency we find some of our deepest human values – honour, respect, dedication, commitment, and love. To sacrifice decency is to act only on animal impulses and physiological drives, no matter how they might disguise themselves. To sacrifice decency is to potentially sacrifice love. In such instances, regret is nothing but necessary, for it suggests the presence of once-forgotten decency.

In my own life, I have come to regret the surrendering of decency itself. More importantly (and more sadly), I regret the forfeiting of a love that was stronger and deeper than any gut reaction or momentary entanglement could have ever provided. I would do anything to go back. I would do anything to fix this. I would do anything to have another chance. These are the inevitabilities of love and regret…

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