Over the past 15 summers I ran a Challenge Course for a local sleep-away camp. One of the things I have brought to the camp, in my area, is a feeling of accountability and welcomeness. A tooth in the mouth of achieving this feeling has been a collection of statements and quotes I have become fond of. Many are of my making, an group of personal mottoes if you will, and the remainder are quotes of which I have credited their creators. A quote I have been referencing since high school is from Aristotle (yes, I am the type of dork who read Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates in high school. I didn’t understand them until college, so that may give me a little more street cred), the quote being “You are what you repeatedly do, therefore, excellence is not an act, but a habit.” Over the past year or so I have been contemplating this quote and the converse of it’s meaning: so, if you develop bad habits, you become that malicious act.
As is common for myself I reflect upon life and actions. When I was younger (in my early 20’s) I adjusted Aristotle’s words and to gain satisfaction with my station in life. I was happy where I was and felt that, with my Aristotle adjustment, I was what I cumulatively have done in my life. Therefore, I could live without regrets as everything I had acted out in my life added up to be who I was at that moment; the end justifying the means, so to speak. Here’s the problem, I have not met end.
The more life I lived the more I realized I was wrong, I live with regret. How can this be? One avenue of thought may be that the longer I live the wider of a scope I have to regret cumulative actions; I find validity in this statement. The more experience I have to look at life by seeing other’s view points the more I have the opportune to reflect on actions that I carried out and until I gained the learned perspective, I didn’t view my actions and/or interactions as being regrettable. Another path of thought could be the more opportunities I experience the more chances at missteps on the journey; these mistakes may develop into regrets later. I am certain that there are other streams or permutations of thought to explain my current burned of living with regret as an adult, I am only reflecting on the two I mention; more chances to make mistakes and a broader wide of the world to adjust my understanding of past cases where I may not have felt I carried out a misdeed.
Of course, both of the understandings I currently reflect upon are connected. Without life experience and interactions with other’s perspectives I would not have a reflective viewing of my own missteps and mistakes. Also, without that opportunity to make those mistakes I would not have had the chance to gain a broader perspective and/or different view of my current reality; wherein I continue to make mistakes. Connecting to my adjusted Aristotle quote, although I am pleased at where my life is going (not where it is yet), and the journey has accumulated to get me to where I am on the long trek of life, I look back at errors, lessons learned, foibles created, people hurt and offended, and friends lost; I continue to tally regrets.
I still understand and feel an accuracy to my adjusted Aristotle quote where I habitually reflect on my blunders, and am satisfied with how my life is tracking. However, another habit I have grown into is that I do not “let go” my misdeeds. I hold onto the transgressions and dwell on the regret to prevent it from occurring again; hopefully. Often times I am successful, I hold the instance of the regret, as one cannot undo faults in their past, but learn to not repeat the failure. At times, I continue to repeat the offense. This leaves me with in contrast of Aristotle’s quote: because I repeat the “sinful” acts, my imperfections are a habit. The natural consequence of my fallacies are I continue to reflect and obsess over my stumbling. I only hope that those who I have offended (if they feel they were slighted) do not suffer the same condition of neurotic mania. Peace and love.