A Thing I Have Learned

‘Every regret you have ever had since the day you were born, is recorded in here,’ Mrs Elm said, tapping her finger on the cover. ‘I now give you permission to open it.’

It’s with these words that Mrs Elm gives the Book of Regrets to Nora when she arrives in the Midnight Library, a place between life and death. Dealing with her regrets is, in fact, the mission Nora finds herself in. Nora is very aware of the things she regretted not doing or the chances she regretted not taking, and yet, when she opens the book, she’s overwhelmed by the negativity of the missed opportunities. She could have been and done many things, but somehow, she got stuck in the city where she was born, working in the same shop for ages without even feeling appreciated.

How many of us feel that way? How many of us focus on the negative aspects of our life, thinking that if we had gone for a different decision, our existence would have magically changed, and everything would have been perfect?

That’s what regrets are. Feelings of sadness, repentance, disappointment over an occurrence or something that one has done or failed to do. But is it how we should feel?

Nora has the opportunity to try all the lives she could have lived, all the infinite possibilities the universe (or multiverse) could have provided her with if she had made different decisions. What she finds out is that by making a decision, we start a butterfly effect that most of the times we don’t take in consideration.

How many aspects of our life would change if we took a different path? What would have happened if, for example, instead of studying philosophy, or taking that job in America or opening that restaurant, we had continued swimming professionally, or started singing, or decided to buy a farm? Would have our life been perfect? Or perhaps every life has its own negative aspects, and we just need to accept it?

During her adventure in the Midnight Library, Nora learns that ‘It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other talents, said yes to different offers. Easy to wish we’d worked harder, loved better, handled our finances more astutely, been more popular, stayed in the band, gone to Australia, said yes to the coffee and done more bloody yoga. It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry and the children we didn’t have. It is not difficult to see yourself through the lens of other people, and wish you were all the different kaleidoscopic versions of you they wanted you to be. It is easy to regret, and keep regretting, ad infinitum, until our time runs out.’

The tough part is to understand that every life is worth living, but it takes courage to actually live it. It takes courage to wake up in the morning and be you, just you. It takes courage to do the things you want and always embrace the outcome, to let the past go, not to overthink situations or decisions, to accept that even if we had chosen a different way, we couldn’t have controlled the consequences. In fact, that’s what life is: a mysterious process, a hodgepodge of possibilities and actions that can lead us anywhere.

‘We don’t have to do everything in order to be everything, because we are already infinite. While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibilities.’

We don’t need infinite lives when we already have infinite paths before us in this very existence. We don’t control the future, we’re not able to change the past. All we can do is focus on our present and make sure we do things for ourselves –  not to please others –  and be conscious that once a decision is made, we can only see where it brings us and arrange the rest of our journey consequently.

That’s the beauty of life, you never know where you’ll end up.

© Brooxy Moon

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