Recently I proposed a notion on facebook that I could be asked any question… my exact wording was:
One question, one chance, one honest answer. You can ask me one question (TO MY INBOX ONLY!). Any question, anything, no matter how crazy, dirty or wrong it is. No catch. I dare you to post this on your status and see what people ask you…
I received a very fabulous and thought provoking question in my inbox from a friend.
What is your biggest regret?
Below is my reply:
OK, to be very honest I had a quick answer, the kind that is slightly reactionary, but that answer was, in its essence, a quick and situation specific yes.
But, after that momentary reaction, I thought that regrets come in many packages and that it is probably related the stages to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and possibly in my case the revised one that includes transcendence. So, as I strived to answer this question I looked at that as a way to put out how I don’t think I really have any true regrets, but may wish that I knew the possibility of certain things with different outcomes (wistfulness), and, all this while not really minding that they didn’t (perhaps, even, preferring that they didn’t ) come to a different conclusion.
At the base of the triangle of needs is Physiological, which I understand to be those basic needs all humans (all animals perhaps) have. Here, there are no regrets unless it is in a manner of perspective that I often forget to be extremely grateful that I have these needs met and am lucky enough to claim that this is the case for my entire life.
The next step up is Safety. Again, if I have regrets here it is in my failure to be grateful for the abundance I have in a world where this is not the case. When you see starving children in the streets of any country, be it third world or first world, you can understand how fortunate one is who is lucky enough to have this meet.
The place where I may claim to have any regrets, which is not based in a failure of being sufficiently grateful, starts at the level of Belonging. I regret being unkind to people, I regret not kissing some boys in my youth who I thought were too intimidated to kiss me, I regret not being more gracious to the underdogs, I regret things that are simple like this… but I think that these things are a part of human nature… and thus not something that I can consider to be truly regrettable (though perhaps it makes me wistful).
When we move to Esteem, the considerations of regrets moves on to more personal things; like taking cruel and ridiculous things people have said to me too much to heart… again though, this is something that forms my personality in terms of wanting to be kinder and gentler with my fellow humans.
When we move on to the next level of needs, Self-Actualization, I have no regrets. Though I will say that my acknowledgment of my very own tendency to judge others has been a tough pill to swallow. At the same token, this is a quality I often notice immediately and I can, therefore, curb that tendency and that is something I don’t think is regretable.
Maslow, later, added Transcendence to his hierarchy of needs. I include this in my reply in part because of the nature of my relationship to the person who asked me this question as well as my own personal preference. I find that if I do have regrets here is that I most often choose to live in rational thought. But, if one sees transcendence as the act of being (our animating force if you will indulge this term) rather than merely that which can be called the divine… then I have none… I am in a process, things I may have something akin to regret is not essentially over, until I, my physical body, passes on (as to the possibility of a where is a whole different discussion I will not enter into here). I was tempted to go into some major philosophical thoughts here, but that was starting to deviate from what I saw as an answer to the original question.
But after examining my self in terms of having any regrets, I can say not really… but I will say that there are things I am wistful about… but the future holds so much for me that who knows if they may be actualized or if I find (as I have in many cases) that living with the wistful moment is part of the beauty life has to offer.