I met a guy who achieved some great success about 40 years ago and he couldn’t tell me much about himself beyond that moment. It was very sad.
His achievement was pretty impressive, so I can understand why he was proud of his accomplishments. Certainly, he was more famous than I’ll ever be and he has fascinating stories to tell about reaching to top of his profession. And yet, he has lived more than half of his life in the afterwards, apparently unable to appreciate what’s happened since his apotheosis.
I tried to draw him out about his life today, his interests and his activities, and it turns out he’s doing some good in his current journey. By many measures, he’s doing more to make the world a better place today, to improve the lives of the next generation, than was the case when he was at the public apex of his career.
He didn’t seem to see it that way, and it’s probably understandable. The spotlight, the adoration of the public, the accolades…it must all be intoxicating in a way that becomes addictive. It must be difficult to give it up, to accept that the moment is gone and never to return. I’ve written before about how difficult it is for normal people to move on, to redefine themselves after their everyday careers. It must be even rougher for people who have scaled the peaks.
As sad as that is, though, it’s even sadder for those who cannot get past the nadir of their lives, the moments of defeat that become the frame for viewing everything that follows. We all know someone who defines themselves in terms of the almost, the didn’t, the couldn’t. In the never-ending loop of memory, everything returns to the time when they weren’t enough, the time that convinces them they cannot become enough. At least my new friend was fixated on a major success.
People who say they have no regrets in life are absolutely not paying enough attention to their own actions. Regret is evidence that we have a conscience and a concern for others. Regret is proof that we are learning from our missteps, that we’ve crossed one more error off the list of things we plan to avoid in the future.
Whether our regrets stem from our failures or our successes, though, they’re the speed bumps that block our growth, our progress, our opportunity to build a future. Memories are a great place to visit, but a terrible place to live.
Yes, I’ve been waiting 70 years to use the word apotheosis in a blog post and now my life is complete. But I’m moving forward in life, as you’ll see in future weeks after you click here to subscribe.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.