On Regrets, Irrationalities & Looking Back

I never usually get stuck hoping for another shot at things. I don’t wish I could turn back time and choose the other path; mostly I just chalk it up to circumstances and accept the fact that at the time the choice I made seemed to be the right one, and there is no one else accountable for it but me. And I don’t like blaming myself, so that fact kind of bolsters my choice not to deeply regret even the things I did wrong in the past. There’s no chance of us getting a stab at getting to fix the fuck-ups for real, so why bother feeling sorry for yourself and wanting something that is impossible? We all know that when you time travel you’re not supposed to touch anything because even stepping on an ant could change the course of everything and probably turn out far worse (The Butterfly Effect, anyone? Chaos Theory?). What good would that do? It’s all in the past. We can only explore the possibilities—my form of retrospection of choice. I gladly looked back and inspected everything that happened with a sort of detached curiosity as to how my mind worked back then, but never pined to change anything. Until now, at least.

Because now here I am, wishing fervently that I had transferred to the campus closer to home, that I gave up on being lazy and went through with what I had already started in the first place, that I didn’t fuck that one semester up, that I didn’t let go of my childhood dream of going to that place I first fell in love with just because I thought what I’d have here would be so much better. It’s so easy, I find, to retrogress into this awful habit, especially when the time you wish to go back to and change was such a short time ago, so close to your grabbing hands and yet has already been set in stone and kept behind a glass case. I’ve never felt so regretful of anything except having fallen in love with you, which of course is also tied to this nagging feeling of wanting to go back and just try to go after you, after all my other dreams long gone, after made-up memories of strolling around the oval hand-in-hand late at night under yellow lampposts and high, dark trees, of sitting by myself inside a vast library reading books I’d never find where I am now, of getting in jeeps for one-hour rides with engines and blaring horns singing in my ears and a layer of soot forming on my squinting but smiling face.

It’s all these things that are in the painfully recent past but which I can never retrieve to change, that’s making me suddenly adhere to this irrational practice of lying in bed for hours thinking about just wanting so badly to go back, the kind of wanting where you feel like the object of your desire is but an arm’s length away but is cruelly held away, like dangling meat in your face after having gone vegan just a few days back. It’s self-torture, but I do it anyway. And a lot of it, too, recently. It makes the usually tame feeling of discontent swell and fester into a weeping pus-crater of emptiness and feelings of worthlessness. I now have another addition to the long list of things that I want but can’t have; and something so impossible, too. I don’t want any more of this need for things which my existence as a terribly unlucky mortal denies me. And I don’t want to fuck things up now only to cause me more pain and regret in the future, because I hate having to look back on things and have them kick me in the gut, asking me—or it’s more likely that it’s me asking myself—why I had to screw them up and then whining about everything later. I have to get up and stop feeling sorry for myself for making the mistakes that didn’t look like mistakes back then, even if it wasn’t my fault. I’m probably not man enough for that job, but hell, is anyone?

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