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Making Sense of the “No Regrets” Obsession

In its hostility with all forms of remorse, doth our culture protest too much?

The other day someone asked about the scar above one of my incisors, which appears when I smile. I did crew for a minute in high school, just long enough for my boat to drift into another boat, or vice versa—I never found out. There was shouting, and a huge oar ripping toward me. It slammed into my face and I started slipping into the water. Someone grabbed me, and then I was in a motorboat, and then bleeding all over someone’s mom’s backseat on the way to the hospital. Broken nose and gum surgery, mainly. I’m fine now.

After I relayed this story, the guy said, “Bet you regret the day you signed up for crew.” It was a throwaway remark, but I thought about it anyway. Did I regret it? Do I regret anything? I grew up, got married, had kids. Once, I found a hundred-dollar bill under a plum tree. I wouldn’t miss this scar but it seems dangerous to go around regretting things. Yank the wrong thread from your past and maybe the whole tapestry comes apart.

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