Godbey: Leave regrets in the rearview mirror

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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By Jack Godbey


I’ve always been a person who regrets very little in my life. Even the things in our lives that are not pleasant will serve as lessons that help us down the road. With that in mind, I retreated to my office in my home under the pretense that I would get some long-avoided word done. Instead, I stared out the window and began thinking about regret.

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I’m thankful that I have had very little to regret in my life. However, once I began thinking about it, I realized that there were more regrettable moments than I realized. For example, a co-worker came into my office with a card and asked me to sign it. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention and assumed it was another retirement card for someone who I barely even knew. Trying to be funny, I just wrote in the card: “You deserve everything you have gotten,” and then signed my name. The next day, I learned that the card was not a retirement card at all but was actually a get-well-soon card as the co-worker had broken their leg. I instantly regretted not listening and trying to be funny. This is going to make things a bit awkward around the water cooler.

I remember once, back in 1987, I had somehow convinced a girl that I had a crush on to go out with me finally. The night of the first date, I pulled up in front of her house and noticed some rumbling in my stomach due to a gas station chicken salad sandwich I had eaten earlier. I decided to try to pass some gas before I arrived at her door. Turns out, I severely misjudged the seriousness of the stomach issues, and what I thought was some innocent gas was much more. Let’s just say that I had to turn around and go back home to change my britches. Boy, do I regret that decision.

If I think about the last 50-plus years of my life, I can think of several different things that I now regret. For example, I regret that mullet haircut that I sported back in high school, I regret paying for that lifetime membership to Blockbuster Video, I regret not paying attention in math class, and I regret smarting off to my mother when I was ten years old. I should probably regret punching the school bully in the nose in the fourth grade for trying to take my lunch money, but I must say that I do not. He learned the hard way not to get in between me and lunch.

I regret insisting that my father show me where fried chicken comes from. It kind of changes things when you watch the chicken get murdered and then an hour later, it’s sitting on the supper table. I regret ignoring the gas light in my car that made me miss the prom in 1986. I regret trying to make friends with a grumpy rooster during my childhood, and I regret standing in line for four hours to buy the new Milli Vanilli album in 1987.

As I thought about past regrets, I realized that we can’t go back and change things from the past. In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. So go ahead and dance, even if you have do the Jed Clampett stomp. Who cares what anyone else thinks. Go ahead and grab someone you love and take that trip together. Just be sure not to eat gas station chicken salad before you go.