3 decisions I regret

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken

Road Not Taken

We make decisions every day. Most of these decisions are rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – Do I want waffles or pancakes for breakfast? Should I get my gas at Speedway or Circle K? Should I wear argyle or striped socks? You know. Pretty mundane stuff.

But there are other decisions that we make that can stay with you forever. They can keep you up at night. They can haunt you in the middle of the day. They sometimes pop up in regular, everyday conversations. You can’t get away from these decisions.

I’m not talking about life-altering things like getting behind the wheel while you’re under the influence or choosing to marry someone. Those are life-altering decisions. I’m talking about other decisions. They might not alter the course of human civilization, but they still cause you to break out in a cold sweat when you think about what you did or didn’t do. They’re decisions you look back on and ask yourself, “Why? Why did I choose to do it that way? Why didn’t I choose to go the other direction as I stood at that fork in the road?”

As I look back on the decisions I’ve made, there are three choices that stand out. And when I think about them, I often wonder, “Man, why didn’t I take advantage of that opportunity?”

These were big decisions in my life. They’re landmarks on my journey of life. But they’re also relatively inconsequential in the grand story of life. They were fun things I could have done. I’m not talking about the really big regrets that I might have. You know, like dating that one girl in high school. Or cheating on a girlfriend while on a school trip out of town. Or leaving the youth ministry position that I had in Kentucky the way I did. Those are big things. They’re life-altering decisions that I’m not really dwelling on. Those things were much more complicated.

These? They’re more…simple…I guess. And I still regret them.

Simple Regret #1: The Corvette (non)incident

One weekend while at Milligan, my roommate’s parents were in town. You remember my roommate, right? Matt – aka Little Matt. He’s the guy who made us sit together on that one fateful Valentine’s Day evening oh so long ago.

Anyway, his parents were in town for the weekend. Through some kind of perk with his company, Mr. Good was able to drive a Corvette for his own personal use for a while. He brought it down to Milligan for the visit.

I don’t remember why I was in the car with them or where we were going, but I do remember Mr. Good pulling over to the side of the road. He put the car into park and turned around to say something to me.

“You want to take it for a quick drive?” he asked me.

I was shocked. I had a split second to make a decision. I didn’t know what to do.

So I said no.

I.said.no.

A college kid turned down an opportunity to drive a ‘Vette through the mountains of Tennessee. Are you kidding me? What was I thinking?

I had a headache that afternoon. So that was my reason. And while I understand that, it was a pretty lame excuse. Don’t you think?

I’m still kicking myself over that decision. It doesn’t really matter if I have other opportunities to drive a sports car like that. I still passed this one up like a bonehead.

Simple Regret #2: “Houston, we have a problem”

Remember when the space shuttle program was retired? I do. Because I passed up the opportunity to watch a shuttle land for the last time. Ever.

If you’re a longtime reader of this site (thank you for sticking with me, by the way), you might remember how I struggled with this decision quite a bit. I had some work-related responsibilities that I probably could’ve rearranged if I had pushed hard enough. In retrospect, I probably should’ve moved heaven and earth so I could go.

After all, they wound up firing me a few months later anyway.

When I mentioned this decision to Aiden a few weeks ago, he looked me in the eye and said, “What were you thinking, Dad?”

I’ve been asking myself the same thing ever since I skipped out on the landing.

What was I thinking?

Regret #3: “Go go go Matty…er…JOSEPH…”

The Spring musical during my senior year of high school was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In the weeks leading up to opening night, it was decided that they needed some more guys to join the cast. An call was sent far and wide throughout the hallowed halls of Harry High.

I could’ve auditioned. Most of my friends were already in the musical – either in the orchestra or up on stage. It would’ve been fun. I already knew all of the songs. I had been listening to the soundtrack nonstop for at least a month. Maybe longer. I wouldn’t have had to dance, really. And that was a good thing. You really, really don’t want to see me try to dance. They just needed more able bodies to be an Egyptian guard or one of Jacob’s sons, or some other extra up on stage.

I didn’t do it. I didn’t even express any hint of interest at all.

There’s an amazing feeling when you connect with an audience while you’re performing. I’ve had it happen while playing my tuba. I have no doubt there would’ve been a similar feeling while standing on stage during my senior year of high school. And it would’ve been pretty special to have shared that experience with my friends who were already in the musical.

But I didn’t.

And I still don’t know why I didn’t even bother to try.

I think that’s what bugs me more than anything else. I didn’t even try.

Get your story off your chest.

What decisions have you made that you still kick yourself over? What makes you stay awake at night wondering what might have been? Sharing those stories can be therapeutic. But don’t life solely in the past. Learn from those missed opportunities and keep moving forward. Because we cannot change the things that happened in the past. We can only influence things that happen today. Let’s make today better than yesterday.

What are you doing to make your life better today?

 

We love Sea World!

One Ocean at Sea World

I have to admit that I as a little apprehensive about bypassing the land of Mickey & Co. and spending the majority of our time at Sea World/Aquatica/Busch Gardens. Yes, everyone had agreed with this decision. Yes, I knew it would be a better fit for our family. Yes, I knew the crowds would be smaller and everything would be a little bit more affordable. But I was still half-expecting one of the young’ins to ask in the middle of the week when we were going to go to Disney World.

To my relief, that never happened. Everyone was just too excited to keep going back to Sea World. Here are some of the reasons why:

    • Rides that were perfect for Mihret
    • Manta – Aiden’s favorite ride
    • We could pet dolphins. Be sure to go to Dolphin Cove at the beginning of the day. They’re extremely active and playful.

Mihret petting a dolphin

      • We could pet stingrays. Same as with the dolphins. Get there early. They’ll be ready to be fed and they go nuts (in a good way).
      • The shark tank
      • 99 cent refills with the souvenir cup. I realize you get free refills at Disney, but this cup could be used at each park and Sea World has Coke Freestyle machines. Everyone got a chance to pick their favorite flavor. Most of us were big fans of the vanilla-flavored  South Pole Chill, which is exclusive to Antartica.
      • Flamingos! Aly loved these birds. I think it’s because of the crazy way they stand. Mihret kept asking if she could go see the “pink ones” all week long. Who knew these would be such must-see animals?

Aly and Flamingos at Sea World

    • Shamu Rocks! We went to two different killer whale shows. The first one, One Ocean, was…well…it wasn’t that exciting. The second one, however, knocked our socks off. Shamu Rocks lived up to the name. It was a high-energy show full of lights, sounds, fireworks, and lots of soaked people. If you happen to visit Sea World during the Summer, bypass the regular killer whale shows and watch what might be the most amazing animal shows I’ve ever seen.
    • The post-party dance party. I have no idea what the official name is, but there was a block party at the exit with music and dancing with Sea World characters and a guy who was dancing like a madman on stilts.

Partying at Sea World

    • Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. I think this was the family favorite. It’s full of penguins. You get so close to them that you can almost touch them. I actually got splashed by a few of them. The open-air exhibit is a balmy 35-ish degrees, so it’s a great place to cool off. I was still chilled some 15 minutes after we left the exhibit. It’s long wait, but definitely worth it. Just be prepared to freeze for a while.

Staring down a penguin

Skipping Disney was probably the best decision we could have made for this trip. We’re still planning on returning to the land of Mickey sometime. It’ll probably be after Star Wars Land opens in a few years. We might even include a trip to Kennedy Space Center to see Atlantis, just to solidify the nerdiness of that trip.

Who knows? We might find a way to squeeze in another visit to Sea World while we’re there.

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity…

Shuttle Atlantis landing

#84 on my 100(ish) Things is something I won’t be able to accomplish anytime soon, now that the final space shuttle launched about a week ago. I signed up for the NASA tweetup, but wasn’t one of the lucky 150 who were chosen to go. I was put on the waiting list. I’ve begun to start thinking of a suitable replacement for #84, and have been unsuccessful thus far.

Until I received an email from NASA yesterday.

They’ve put together a last-minute tweetup for the Atlantis landing this Thursday. I was informed yesterday that I was one of the 50 people who had been selected. They merely performed a random draw out of those who were on the waiting list for the launch. If I have the time and the money, I have been invited to join NASA to watch the landing of the final space shuttle. This is a once lifetime opportunity.

And I can’t go.

Believe me, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make this work. But I have commitments at church on Wednesday night, Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning that I, in all reality, am in charge of running. It’s one of the worst possible weeks to try to shuffle things around this Summer. There’s not enough time to get someone else lined up to run these events. I would be doing this church a huge disservice (and maybe even put my job in jeopardy) if I dropped everything and drove to Florida.

Even if, for some reason, this was an open week in my schedule, there’s still the money issue. Because the IRS continues to hold on to the majority of our tax refund, we don’t have a lot of extra money to spend – especially after our recent trip to Charlotte and surrounding areas.

You have no idea how disappointing it is to say that I’m probably going to have to pass up this opportunity. The inner-five-year-old in me is throwing a big ol’ temper tantrum, trying to convince me to forget all that stuff and go anyway. Sometimes it stinks being an adult, doesn’t it?

 

Under the Sun…

When I was in fourth grade, the Space Shuttle program was shelved indefinitely in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster.

Now, 25 years later, Aiden is in the fourth grade and Discovery has flown its last mission. Endeavor and Atlantis won’t be far behind.

When I was in fourth grade, the President announced over the air that US forces had attacked Libya. Yesterday, the US joined NATO forces in attacking Libya.

What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9