by Kung Fu Zu 7/20/14
As people grow older, it is not uncommon to hear them reminisce about their lives. During such reflections, one of the most common remarks I have heard goes something like this, “I don’t regret anything. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Such remarks are often unsolicited and many times made immediately after another person has expressed regret for some past failure. Is this because the one without regrets wishes to show he is happier and smarter than the poor dolt who just admitted he was not perfect? I don’t know, but I have a suspicion there is something like this behind both the statement and its timing.
In any case, when I hear such a comment, if the person who made it is over forty, I have the strong urge to ask him whether he is dishonest or just a fool?
Most of the time, I can control my urge and let the conversation proceed on its uninterrupted course. But the thought stays with me. I ask myself, “What type of adult could go through life and truly believe such a thing?” And so I am left pondering on both the person’s intelligence and veracity. This makes for neither sparkling conversation nor serious discussion.[pullquote]…an adult who, if given the chance, would truly not change anything in his past has obviously learned little of life and must, perforce, be stunted and foolish.[/pullquote]
It is perhaps understandable for a person to play fast and loose with the truth about his past. Who among us has not done embarrassing, stupid, and even downright cruel things? That one would rather not bring such past actions to light is understandable. It is bad enough to be forced to dwell upon such failings in private, but to have them displayed before the world, particularly before our family and friends, would be too painful for many. But if this is the case, wouldn’t it be better to avoid such pronouncements in the first place? Why add further falsehoods to existing ones? I guess only the liar himself could answer this.
But as bad as dishonesty might be, in such a case, it is worse if the person truly means what he says.
What normal person would not, in retrospect, like to have saved that money, instead of spending it on the latest whim. Or would not like to have back some of the time which was spent at work instead of with the family? How many of us would say, “If I had only taken school more seriously!” The possibilities here are more numerous than can be counted.
More importantly, who among us would not rectify wrongs and avoid hurts which we have done others?
One of the great gifts of aging is that through it we gain experience. It is by experience that we learn our most important lessons and thus grow. Therefore, an adult who, if given the chance, would truly not change anything in his past has obviously learned little of life and must, perforce, be stunted and foolish. And in addition to these, he must be arrogant, as who but an arrogant fool could imagine himself to be so faultless? Foolish, stunted and arrogant — a potentially dangerous combination.
Of course, I could be seeing complexity where there is none. It might simply be that the speaker is someone for whom words have little meaning, who is simply talking for the sake of talking, giving his statement little or no thought. In such a case, one could do worse than to conclude the speaker is a nitwit similar to the multitude of nitwits the world over who have little to say, but say it a lot.