Not Once

I have never once regretted going to the gym.

Sure, it’s hard to get going, but I’ve never once walked out of the locker room and thought, “You know, I shouldn’t have done that. That was a bad idea. What a waste of time.” Never.

So many things are the same way– hard to begin, but never regretted once they’re done. It’s one of life’s little asymmetries. Likewise, so many things are regrettable in hindsight, but they take almost no effort at all to get started. Overindulgence, impulsive behavior, laziness of any type.

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Other things I’ve never regretted, and their flip sides:

I’ve never regretted getting up early, but I’ve regretted sleeping in.

I’ve never regretted staying sober for a night, but I’ve definitely had too much to drink.

I’ve never regretted working hard, but I’ve regretted spending the afternoon watching Mad Men instead of working hard.

I’ve never regretted delaying sex with someone I loved, but I’ve regretted sex with someone new too soon.

I’ve never regretted play, but I’ve regretted time where my mood prevented me from being playful.

I’ve never regretted reading a book, but I’ve regretted taking the easy way out and opting for a movie or a blog instead.

I’ve never regretted writing, but I’ve regretted spending all night bouncing from distraction to distraction. I’ve felt the pain of wasting hours with nothing to show for myself.

I’ve never regretted getting in touch with someone new, but I’ve regretted missed opportunities to form a new relationship.

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Why is it so hard to think ahead? Why can’t we see the end result, but we are instead stuck in a pattern of instant gratification? The answer is right in front of us, but we act like we can’t see what’s right in front of us? Why do we do this, flitting from one impulse to the other, never able to focus on the not-so-distant future?

Seneca said: “Call to ming when you ever had a fixed purpose; how few days have passed as you had planned…You will realize that you are dying prematurely.”

He’s right. Instead of focusing on the distant future, we spend out lives tossed around by these alternating forces of impulse and restraint, action and hesitation, pride and regret.

We are all like children. Or addicts.

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