“It’s easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other talents, said yes to different offers…It is easy to regret, and keep regretting, ad infinitum, until our time runs out.”Matt Haig, The Midnight Library
“What if depression is, in fact, a form of grief—for our own lives not being as they should? What if it is a form of grief for the connections we have lost, yet still need?”Johann Hari, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions
There is a fluidity that exists between grief, regret, and depression. Each seems to seamlessly yield itself to the other freely; a waxing and waning of melancholy meeting mourning. A remorse rises and recedes only to return again; a rhythm, a repetition. We lament the loss of our connection to a self we thought we once were or hoped one day to become. We experience the anguish of disconnection as all our anticipatory expectations have go unmet. But, perhaps the true source of our sorrow, grief, and regret is in the loss of our connection to possibility. We watch the possibility of our most heart-felt desires disappear and in the process we are deluded into thinking that we have lost the possibility of anything ever being different. We have lost the connection to our own capacity for change.
And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s impossible for our connection to the potentiality to ever be severed. Haig says that ‘While we are alive we always contain a future of multifarious possibility“. One needn’t look very far to find the texture and shape of every imaginable prospective. Each one is available in an instant if we can attune our awareness and distillate our attention to all that surrounds us.
If we experience a diminution of potentiality, what we are really experiencing is the manifestation of our own gross misunderstanding of the possible. We become so narrowly fixated on either a single choice or an astoundingly small number of choices, that we fail to fully consider or appreciate the vastness of likelihoods that are presented to us at any given time. There is a sprawling and ever-present spiderweb of potentiality that becomes available to us because of the series of choices that we make. Given the immense degree of possibility that we are always and at all times engulfed by, perhaps the only true impossibility is the possibility of real genuine regret. After all, how could it ever be possible to regret all that we don’t and could not ever know?
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