Note to you:
I am putting this here (with you) in a collection I call The Book of Firsts. I say this because everything begins from somewhere. Every journey begins with the first step and so on and so forth. I know this and I know you do too. So, I will spare the philosophy and leave this thought here where it belongs, in The Book of Firsts to build from here and create what comes forward, one brick at a time . . .
Rest assured, we all know what regret feels like. Some feel this a bit more intensely than others. Some struggle. Some lay awake at night and dig through their memories during bouts of insomnia, wishing they had turned left instead of right or spoke when they stayed silent. Some people are less concerned, some are self-absorbed, and some, well, some allow regret to eat away at them, which sucks because regret is like a tiny parasite that gnaws through our better judgement and feasts on the heart of our soul, one tiny piece at a time, until eventually, there’s nothing left.
I remember watching a young man stand on stage during a talent contest. His job was to sing. And he sang. He sang and he danced. He was horrible. No rhythm, couldn’t carry a tune to save his own life. He could not dance well either. But still, whether the young kid was odd or not; at least he dared. I loved that kid. Perhaps what I loved most was the unwillingness to allow doubt or insecurity to overcome him. When he was picked apart by the judges, nicely, but the truth was the truth and the kid had absolutely no shit; the young man said, “Well, I came up here and I gave it the best I had. And that’s all I can do.”
I have never heard anything so brave and heroic in my life. Good job, kid, Hold on to that because I have lived a bit longer than you and I have never seen anyone attack anything with such beautiful grace and amazing tenacity as you. So to him, I say bravo!
Regret, as if the things we wished we would have done or should have done but yet, we didn’t. The Old Man knew what regret was. He worked hard and had no regrets about his work; however, when I was a kid, someone offered him a chance to buy into a fast food franchise. My Father turned it down. Roy Rogers Restaurants aren’t around the way they used to be, but when they were, The Old Man shook his head every time we passed one.
Regret is the time when we trusted the wrong person and found out we were betrayed. Regret is that wish we have to push the rewind button or the prayer we have to create a “Delete” button so we can go back to a specific time and recreate our past.
Regret is the time we were quiet when we really needed to speak or say something. We could have said anything for that matter, but instead, we gave in to the weight of our doubt. Instead, we let something go unsaid and submitted to the undertow of our fears and insecurity. We kept quiet but meanwhile, there was something inside screaming, “Just say something you idiot!”
Or, maybe there was a time when someone walked away and all you wished they would do was come back—but yet, they were gone because of something we said.
This is regret.
Regret is trying to prove your point and be right when the truth is being right meant nothing more than the need for validation—so we nurtured this more than we nurtured the moment. As a result, we missed an opportunity to be happy or in worse scenarios; we missed the chance to say goodbye to someone we loved.
We all have regrets.
I know I do.
I regret not coming upstairs 15 minutes earlier when my dog Roxxy died. (Yes, it is spelled Roxxy with two x’s because she was extra special.)
I regret the time I did not defend myself, and instead, I accepted the trade and submitted to treatment and a life I never wanted to live in the first place. And there I was, stuck in a place I never wanted to be. But hey, this is what happens when you settle for something less than what you’re worth.
I regret the time I let my pride get in the way. I regret the time I screamed and I yelled because goddammit, I had a point, and I was going to be heard! And I was heard alright. I was heard loud and clear. But to what avail?
Words are sharper than any blade. A simple word can be heavier than the heaviest steel. A word can do so many things. A word can carry you into the future or keep you stuck in the past. A word can break hearts and mend them. I know this because I know what the word “Cancer” means and then again, from an opposite perspective, I know what it means to hear the words, “It’s a girl!”
Life can go by pretty fast. We can blink and miss everything. We can blink or we can be caught up in regret. We can allow ourselves to slip beneath the undertow of our thoughts and fears. We can lose our footing pretty easily and find ourselves washed away. Unless we root ourselves; unless we create and build on a truly sound foundation, we can topple over. This is why we need to nurture ourselves and pay close attention to all of our valuable creations from the ground up.
The other day, I took a ride up in a new building which is almost complete but still under construction. I was the highest I have ever been in my city. I could see all the way downtown and all the way uptown. I could see the bridges that connect the island of Manhattan to other parts of the world. I thought about the amazing fact that this was designed and built by men and women. I came to the conclusion that one man had a vision for this.
I realized everything starts from somewhere. Every book has its first page and first chapter. I came to the conclusion that nothing this enormous can be built by regret. No, this took planning and strategy. This took commitment and time. I watched this building go up from a hole in the ground. They began 60 feet below the sidewalk grade. I watched the first beams be put in place. I saw this grow. Step by step, team by team, I watched this building evolve. I saw the glass come in. I watched the cranes pull up steel. There was no fear in this. There was only jobs and scheduling, plans and action. There was material and pricing and man work and man hours.
They say this building will be done in a little more than a year. More than 2 million square feet with 24/7 operation was created by a dream.
Just one dream.
I am sure whomever dreamt of this place is not regretting the fact that they never dared.
I want to dare too.
I want to dare right now, in fact, I think I will.
This is why I always tell my loved ones I love you before hanging up the phone or walking away.
I think I‘ll dare me and the word because the idea of regretting another day or another thing is depressing to me. And who the hell wants that?
The idea of building and creating, however, is the one thing that helps keep me going.
So I say build it.
Dare it all!
I say do it now because this beats the alternative of holding back or settling for a dream you never wanted in the first place.
Say what you need to say.
Do what you have to do.
Just don’t wither away like a cobweb dangling in the corner of some old dream that never came true.
It is morning now. We have the rest of the day to make it work and only one choice; do we dare it all and build, or do we sit quietly and watch something we love disappear because we didn’t have the balls to say what we feel?
Before I leave you, I want to leave you with a quote I saw written on one of the walls in the new building. This was written beside the freight elevator that brings the workers up and down all day long. The tour of the building was inspiring to me. I suppose the fact that I was in something taller than the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building and the fact that I could see all of my city, unobstructed by anything else, and with nothing blocking my views to the Queens side or the Jersey side was inspiring enough. However, on the ground floor I read this quote written on the wall.
“The quality of work will remain long after the price is forgotten.”
There is nothing more true than this. That means the quality of my life and the things I build and create will follow the same motto.
So build it, I say.
Dare it all because trust me, it’s worth regretting the alternative.