Friday, October 3, 2008

Lunch time musings

At lunch yesterday, I overheard an old guy at the table next to me tell the woman he was with that he had no regrets in his life -- not one. Maybe it was my mood, but I felt like swiveling around and calling him on it. Interesting as that sounds, how can it be true? How is it that he managed to maneuver through life and not have a few regrets?

Of course, he was probably posturing, if not for his lunch companion's benefit, maybe for his own. Regret is, after all, an intensely personal issue, one I believe the average person doesn't talk about with just anyone because it makes them feel vulnerable, and no one wants to voluntarily crawl out on that limb, right?

He smiled at me as he left and I smiled back, thinking about the novel I'm working on, knowing that if I want readers to fall in love with the story, as they do with any good story, I'll need to make sure they feel my main character has made them privvy to everything in his life, including the most personal regrets he'd never share with anyone else -- maybe even a few he's had trouble admitting to himself.

11 comments:

Adam said...

Okay. You got me on this one.

I always say I have no regrets (usually after a couple drinks) but that's not true. I have two, both with the same woman.

Victoria said...

I think you're right.
I'm not about to tell anyone my regrets, but some of the best novels out there take the reader right into the main character's pocket and do exactly that.

I guess cuz we all relate, huh?
To that vulnerability, I mean.

ChrisEldin said...

The sense of having wasted time along my path, here and there, is my biggest regret. It's what we can't get back or make amends for.

I don't like that guy--even if he truly believes he has no regrets, it's arrogant to announce this. And false.

Therese said...

I can't say I have no regrets about the past--but I do work hard to prevent adding to the (short but real) list.

And yes, exploring your characters' regrets gives readers wonderful insight and makes those characters real.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Great topic. I'm really aware of not piling up regrets. I'd rather look stoopid, fail or whatever than NOT do/try the things I wanna.

Wouldn't that be a fab novel plot? An MC who tries to undo every single regret from his past?

Andy Scontras said...

I have no regrets.

Made some stupid decisions and am guilty of even more stupid behavior ... but I have no regrets.

I believe if I had changed anything in the course of my life, my life's path might not have lead me to where I am now--and I wouldn't change that for the world.

If I died tomorrow, no regrets ... it's been a great ride.

(cold up there yet?)
A.

Holly Kennedy said...

Adam -- I'm sorry to hear that.
Interesting, though, how often regrets are tied to relationships, huh?

Victoria -- I think you're right.
There's something compelling about reading a novel that makes you feel as if you're hanging over the main character's shoulder right through to the last page.


Chris -- I'd have to agree.
Things we can't make ammends for that bother me most.

Holly Kennedy said...

Well put, huh, Chris?!
I MEANT... it's the things we can't make ammends for that bother me most.

Therese -- Exactly.
At 30 we do things differently than we would've at 20 and at 40 we handle them differently yet again because of how much we've learned from our missteps.

Angie -- Get to work on that novel! It WOULD be a great premise.

Andy -- You make me smile!
No, it's not cold up here yet. Gorgeous fall weather I wish I could freeze. You and your wife still living in your flip-flops over there in Hawaii??!! I feel so sad for you island people. So hard done by!

You make a valid point.
I love where I'm at with my life today and wouldn't be here if I hadn't gone through all I've gone through, but I still have a few regrets -- most centered around wishing I could make ammends for hurting someone, or wishing I would've handled something differently, that sort of thing.

Andy Scontras said...

Thought this was appropriate to the discussion ... (Gads, I'm quoting my own work!)

“Jimmy, we all gotta do that at some point in time. Your mother and I had to make a lot of tough calls bringing up you kids, with Katie’s sickness and sending you off to Stanford before you were even old enough to shave. But you know what? We made our choices and that’s the best you can do. And that’s really the bottom line: There are no good decisions or bad decisions. There are simply choices to be made and the paths that lead away from them. And the only advice I can give you about making those choices is that you gotta just follow your heart. That’s the best you can do, son. Follow your heart, Jimmy.” -- The Gene Weaver

The island is great, flip-flops and all. Just back from Fiji where we renewed our vows after 20 years (means so much more after understanding what "having and holding" is really all about...)

Travis Erwin said...

That would have made for an interesting conversation had you called him on it.

laughingwolf said...

sinatra sang it in: 'my way' [written by canuck, paul anka]