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Carpe Diem

In regret of lost time

By Thomas Chatterton Williams | August 15, 2018
Enric Serra/Flickr

In recent years, I’ve noticed a mental habit that I find difficult to shake. Whenever I make a gain, whether physical, financial, or professional, though genuinely grateful for any good fortune, I have a tendency to regret what feels like wasted time. For example, last month I bought a comfortable chair for the living room, a little indulgence to make holding my newborn baby and visiting with family more pleasant. But no sooner did I sit down on it than my mind turned, not miserably but with undeniably less satisfaction, to the current chair’s rickety predecessor. I can’t get back all those hours of sitting less perfectly, the familiar voice in my head pointed out.

About three months ago, before the birth of my son, I joined a gym and began working out five days a week. Over the course of the summer, I got stronger in my legs and upper body, and for the first time in years, I had a six pack. I was elated at my progress. It was easier carrying groceries and my four-year-old daughter up the stairs, and I felt exponentially better and more focused sitting at my desk. At 37, I’m stronger than I’ve been since I was 27, probably the same as when I was 17. I should rejoice, I know, but that nagging voice wants to ask why I wasn’t doing this for the past 10 years. I can’t get back all those years of sitting in front of my computer with poor posture, but today I’m accepting that fact and consciously freeing myself of the mental rebuke. There is no future or past, there is only the present day, and I want to seize it.

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