Guest blog courtesy of Joanne dowds MISCP
Sorting through pictures for the obligatory memory book for my sister’s hen when I came across a picture of the two of us after finishing a colour run; it sparked a pang of something, maybe its just jealousy, sibling rivalry is alive and well even in adulthood –she can cover 10k in 45 minutes! But I’m calling regret, a sense of my loss compared to her accomplishment. Let me explain, a few years ago, I decided I wanted to run, that I needed some company, so always the bossy big sister, that Christmas I bought my littlest (at the time sedentary) sis race entry into a 10 k and some running paraphernalia. We trained, we ran, we finished (she finished a comfortable 10mins ahead of me, she is a natural). A while later I stopped, she has kept going. In the last year, she has ran a marathon, several half marathons, multiple 10k, by all standards (except maybe her own) is a strong runner. I haven’t. I am sitting on the couch nursing a head cold and a family sized bag of popcorn.
The regret I feel isn’t the same as the benign amusement I have recalling the time I shaved my head, which is not to say that being an egghead was a good choice or one I will repeat, I neither have the jaw line or the capacity to withstand the sun, even the Irish sun! Nor is it the snotty sobbing that Adele songs can occasionally muster of lost chances, difficult conversations or absences. The famous french song says to regret nothing but I don’t believe it. I think there is room for a little regret if only to fuel different choices the next time. I regret that I’m not running still but I stopped running. It wasn’t a deliberate decision, I got busy and injured, I didn’t give rehab enough time and effort, passive choices, but still my choices. So my sense of regret about this is small and transient. The regrets that haunt, are the times I didn’t try, the sense of having walked away from people, opportunities or challenges that I didn’t explore.
For me, as for anyone, where I am right now is the result of multiple, little and large decisions. Some in retrospective absolutely right and others, the best option at the time didn’t with the benefit of hindsight work out quite as planned. Years ago, I chose books over dance classes, I was/am a book nerd, I made a choice to be bookish, it is still a source of regret that I didn’t wedge both in…aside from the very limited ( but in my delusional mind, very real) potential of being in Riverdance, I could have had much better legs! I spent a decade being obese, not an active choice to gain a whole lot of weight, but one I made a very active decision to reverse. And I suppose that is the lesson. Every day is a fresh page, every choice presents the capacity to change direction completely, whether that is to go back to rework something that isn’t working or just step forward into the new.
Accepting not knowing how things are going to pan out is terrifying, the potential for mistakes, endings and the accompanying regret is okay. It’s gloriously human to feel all of it. Moving forward holding it, using it as motivation is the best option. Not stepping forward, being static is the only true source of regret for me. But even this has a purpose, it is a teacher. Move always.
I can see all that running gives people, fitness, psychological well-being, sense of dedication and reward. I ran for a few years, the pang of regret lasted 10 minutes tops. I wanted to run, I ran, I stopped. The injury list heavily tilt’s the scales against resuming; running doesn’t suit me particularly well. I am fine with it. And I will loudly clap on my little sis, from the sidelines of her next adventure!