In ninth grade, my English class spent two months of our first semester putting together a book of vignettes. Every week or so, we would craft a short story about a specific moment in our life and at the end, we bound everything together with a title and a dedication page. I titled my book “No Regrets”. I actually forgot about it until just now when I was thinking about all the little bits and pieces that led me to this moment in life.
To be sure, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. As an impulsive person, I’d say I’ve probably made more mistakes than not (I don’t even know what the opposite of a mistake would be. Is there such a thing?) And what is a mistake anyway? Maybe I’ll just call them “decisions that led to an undesirable outcome”.
Here’s the thing: that’s what life is. Ever read one of those “choose your own adventure books”? It’s not about achieving ultimate happiness, its about choosing your own path and then dealing with the adventure. Despite the fact that I wrote this book of “No Regrets” in ninth grade, I actually spent the majority of high school with a significant amount of regret, something that caused me a lot of mental and physical harm. It was mostly about miniscule things, things that have become tiny little blips in my present life. They still matter, sure, because they led me to where I am today, but I don’t agonize over wondering, “what if?” anymore. The thing is, it just doesn’t matter.
So today, I have no regrets. And my life is certainly far from perfect, whatever that may be. I can barely walk, I miss my family and my home to no end, and I am literally on the opposite side of the world where I will stay for another three months. This past year, it honestly seemed for a bit like something was out to get me, and I try not to think about happiness because lord knows where that’ll take me.
But this is my life. This is where all the little things have led me to be, and this is where I am supposed to be. Maybe its because I’m one of those people that believe that everything has a reason or maybe its because I’ve been studying Buddhism for the past two months. But life isn’t over yet. This moment right now will lead to another and another, until suddenly I’m looking back in ten years trying to figure out how I got there. And when that time comes, I want to know that I’ve had a hand in getting there. So instead of looking back and regretting, I am taking responsibility and living now.
A few days ago, someone asked me if I made the right decision in coming to Japan. My answer then and my answer will always be, yes. Its far too early to see where this will lead me and how it has changed me, but this has certainly been an experience.