if pictures are worth a thousand words, consider this a photograph with a captionPosted: July 20, 2009
Let’s call this one “if pictures are worth a thousand words then consider this a photograph with a caption (an essay on missed opportunities).” I guess this means I’m taking a break from fiction? I’m not sure, yet.
“That’s a choo-choo train of death heading your way!”
In this context, that sentence, or rather, that statement, makes very little sense. It made very little sense when it was uttered a few days ago, and upon the realization that it was uttered a few days ago, I noticed that time has been going very slowly. I’ve been watching a great deal of television, lately, mainly because I finally sprung for cable and I’m slowly learning the all-encompassing benefits of a DVR, but also because there isn’t a great deal of things to do when you’re young, semi-isolated, and jobless. I’m at a juncture in my life where I can safely say there’s going to be a veritable maelstrom of change, opportunities, experiences, and all of those things that I’m supposed to talk about when interviewed by someone who could potentially offer me some sort of job or activity to while away my time with ahead of me, and all I can really think about are things that are inconsequential, minuscule. Among other things, such as the kind of food I’ll be eating tomorrow, I’ve been thinking about the opportunities that I’ve missed. Above all, those give me the most grief.
There are a few benefits to having a selectively good memory. The cons, however, include such great things as split second moments where you sit, or stand, or in rare cases, hang upside down, and are completely in the dark as to what you were doing at the moment you were sitting, standing, or hanging upside down (reading a book, talking to a friend over fresh-from-the-oven frozen pizza, partaking in Cirque Du Soleil-style acrobatics) The good parts, though, include the ability to remember precise statements and details made either in passing or in emphasis from months back. The night before I went on a road trip and permanently cementing my despise of automated calling services, I was sitting at the same computer that I am sitting at now talking, or rather, exchanging typed words with a friend I’ve known for half a decade, but have known for the better part of a few months. The conversation meandered from pleasantries to what one could vulgarly describe as some pretty heavy shit, about life, about the paths each of us were taking and so on, and so forth. I remember a certain point where we were discussing the same matter I’m trying to discuss in this post, or essay, or whatever you want to call it. There was a certain statement that stuck mainly because of its sheer blunt succinctness:
“It’s why I fucking hate child prodigies, man.”
That makes a little sense. We spend our lives trying to accomplish certain tasks, master the guitar, play a certain sport, be knowledgeable (note how I use that word and not wise; two very different things) and not only to see someone a quarter of your age do it with less time, considerably less life experience, and do it while being way, waay shorter than you. I won’t go as far to say it’s emasculating, because it is indeed a petty little hatred, but it’s understandable. (“Why, Professor Rambling Buffoon?”) It’s understandable because it brings up the fact that you could have probably been using your time for something useful, like gaining knowledge, instead of spending it with whatever “little thing” captured your attention for a good few years and distracted you from the more “important things”. It makes you, or at least, it makes me, realize the opportunities missed because of decisions, or lack thereof. It makes you think that you might have been wasting your time. Your talents.
And here we are at the point of all of this.
I told myself (and, for honesty’s sake, the person I was talking to a few hours ago) that my latest post for this blog would not talk about that fickle son of a bitch that people call “love”. However, I tend to lie. It’s a habit I’ve been slowly breaking in favor of more entertaining ways of fooling people, I promise. But let’s mention it for a smidge. I was recently in an automobile with one of my oldest, closest friends and he was telling me the tragic story of himself and the one perfect girl who was back in town for a few days and who was to leave for parts known but not much cared for, never to return again. The mind couldn’t help but wonder if there was something he missed in the past that could have led him to knowing her better, or something along those lines. The voice was quick to tell him that he should go and at least say hello to her one last time.
That’s how it goes, I suppose, with missed opportunities. There are the ones that you reflect upon in the future and kick yourself for not realizing, or, for whatever reason, didn’t take, and there are those that are rapidly approaching and demanding your immediate decision. Before I’m branded as a Captain of the Obvious, I’ll add some more. I am, in the grand scope of things, quite young. The opportunities that I look back on and explicitly say that I kick myself for not taking are comparatively petty to those that are older, more far along in their paths of life but it doesn’t stop the fact that I missed out on something nag at my general mentality. I could have spent my time with something more productive, instead of writing for my audience of few. I could have gone and done something stupid, instead of sitting around with a few others, saying stupid things. Cliche statements such as “I should have kissed her,” or, “I should have been there,” come to mind. There are things you just forget, things that just slip out of your mind, things that you assume, or hell, things that you didn’t even notice that come up later to point out the fact that you could have done more, or that you could have done things differently. But what then? There wouldn’t be a nice little memory of a funny thing your friend said; it would be replaced with something entirely different. And even then you’d think, “Man, I should have stayed back with the others instead of going off to wherever.”
It’s a fundamentally human emotion, regret.