For those who have read some of my past writings you will know I enjoy the movie ‘Good Will Hunting’, for many reasons.  This morning I watched the movie for perhaps the, oh I don’t know, twentieth time.  With each viewing I find another something, another piece of dialog provoking another thought.  I also spoke with my son, who is now a junior in college, and we shared some of my college experiences, again, more thoughts.  Lastly, I spoke with my recently ‘found’ little sister, someone with whom I speak often and from whom I learn a plethora of things, about her and about myself.  She and I shared various experiences, different perspectives and again provoking thoughts.  In each instance the notion of regrets were discussed.

For those not familiar, Good Will Hunting is about a mathematical genius, an orphan raised by very abusive foster parents in south Boston.  Will, the main character, works as a janitor at MIT where he solves math problems posted on a board outside a classroom intended to take, if at all, the full semester to solve.  Will solves the problems quickly attracting a renowned professor’s attention.  One night he and his friends were in a Cambridge bar, a ‘Harvard’ bar as they called it, where he met an English pre-med student and whom he began dating.  Constantly in trouble, the next day he and his friends start a fight with another group after-which Will assaults a police officer attempting to restrain him following the fight.  He is put in jail where the professor negotiates a deal with the judge, the conditions including Will meeting with the professor to do math and once a week with a therapist named Shaun, played by Robin Williams. Shaun is an old friend and college roommate of the professor now teaching psychology at a community college who came from the same area as Will, South Boston, ‘southy’ as they called it.  Shaun also lost his wife to cancer.

During one session Will asks Shaun if he ever thought about his life had he not met his wife.  Shaun began to tell Will about his wife, about all the little things that made her special, all those thing that made them, she and Shaun, perfect for each other.  Will then asked when Shaun knew, when he knew she was the ‘one for him’ to which Shaun responded with the story of how he and some friends slept outside of Fenway to get tickets to game six of the World Series featuring the Red Sox.  He want on to describe how Carlton ‘Pudge’ Fisk hit the walk off home run in the twelfth inning, about how the fans stormed the field and Pudge had to bull them over to get around the bases touching each as required.  Will and Shaun were in somewhat of a frenzy, shouting about how exciting the game and then Will asked a question.  The question of Shaun was whether he also stormed the field and Shaun said, no, that he wasn’t there, that he was at a bar in Boston with a girl who would become his future wife.  Astounded Will asked how that happened, how his friends would let him skip the game to meet the girl.  Shaun went on to describe how he had no regrets about his wife, about the years he spent with her fighting cancer and the pain he now felt with her loss.  What he added was had he not stayed to talk with her, had he not skipped the game, would be the regret.

With my son, we flirted across topics, touching on a number of things, but mostly on shared experiences, things I encountered during my college days, and in life, that he is either now experiencing or will likely experience.  We spoke of people I met, of people he met and how in the course of life it is ours to either act upon those encounters or pass them by.  It was an interesting conversation and in which, with each reflection was the consideration of regrets.  The question about one encounter or another, of any regret not saying hello to the cute girl, not pursuing a particular opportunity, of seeking alternatives when that which lay before us offered itself only to be passed by.

With my sister the conversation was of a similar ilk but rather focused on things like women I met in my life and how I reacted to them.  From college I mentioned Linda, a fellow student who actually lived near where I grew up.  I mentioned how I think there was something unsaid between us, but that we tended not to acknowledge it, waiting for the other to take the next step.  I mentioned Maggie, the lab tech with whom I shared many a conversation and unintentionally created a chasm between her and her then boyfriend.  I spoke of Jane, the pre-vet student who was also a TA for a dairy science class and who ultimately did get accepted to the vet school.  All instances of encounters which may have had a profound impact on my life had I chosen a different course.  I mentioned the woman I’ll call ‘basset hound lady’, a person with an older basset hound dog who needed some help getting him into her truck after a visit to the vet; our eyes met but yet the cultural taboos around telling someone they charmed you without context prevented any further exchanges.  For each, for the total, came the question of regrets, regrets for not taking the next step with Linda or for not asking the basset hound lady if she would like to go for coffee, or perhaps somewhere to eat caramels.

In each of the cases I reflected and all were answered with the one consistent belief I’ve held to for all my years, the belief that I have no regrets.  Some question the notion of that declaration, that surely I must have a regret, that everyone has at least one regret.  However, for me that is not the case because in my eyes I’ve always tried to live life, to follow a path of meaning and let providence take me as it may for if there is not such a force, if we truly had absolute control over ourselves, life would become a burden weighted down with every minute decision.  For me I’ve always felt I followed the path decisioned on the basis of the best information available and if so done, no decision is a bad decision and no choice will harbor regrets.

Happy reading, happy thoughts and happy trails.

As always, feel free to comment or you may email me at lifeabstractions@gmail.com

ciao

Lifesabstractions

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