I used to scoff at regrets, probably because they hadn’t yet accumulated enough mass. I was confidant and convinced, in the way young men are, that regrets are for for fools. I believed I could fight my way through life without the deep wounds and scars born of mistakes, and I charged with unswerving abandon and careless faith and speed straight into middle age. The truth hurts when it comes crashing. I’m an author, but I haven’t written my own life the way I should have, the way I would if I were a character in one of my own books.
“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show,”
Charles Dickens opens David Copperfield with that poetry, my favorite first sentence in literature. Not only would I like to write like that, I’d like to succeed in living that great commission. Heroes fall and fail and triumph in the end because they learn from their mistakes, because they are able to feel the sting of regret and overcome great obstacles and great odds. There is always adversity, the thing is to defeat it.
I write heroes in my books that would despise me if they knew me, because they’re better, these characters and constructs who are more brave and good than I am. I’m just a writer, not a hero. I’ve been writing and dreaming and lost in words and acting as though I had an editor for my life. Someone to excise the mistakes, cut the fat, correct the regrets. I’ve got just one draft, though, here and now, which is my life here on this earth. No auto correct, no edits, no way to change the character arc or tweak the ending. One draft, all the way through, is what I’ve got, and if it sucks, then it does. It’s a lowsy story.
I think there’s a bit more to it, though, than that. I’m far from figuring it out, and I’ve got my scars and regrets. I’m writing this interactive video game, where the characters make choices that impact the ending, and I think the universe is like that. Sometimes there are no good endings, no matter what, not here in this mean world. Mostly, though there are endings which could be satisfying when we, the actors in the play, the characters in the story of our lives, listen to the wrong things. I know I do.
Paul says in Hebrews 12:2 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” I’m an author, but I haven’t been the author of my fate, not in the way I’d like to believe I’ve been. I certainly haven’t kept my eyes where they were supposed to be looking. One draft, one chance to get it right, and my choices make a difference, and I’m still hoping that my life will be written well, both by me and THE author.