Never yield to remorse, but at once tell yourself: remorse would simply mean adding to the first act of stupidity a second.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Over the last week, I’ve had the opportunity of looking at last Sunday’s event at Interlake State Recreation Area in hindsight, and it got me thinking about regret. I pride myself on not having many, if any, regrets in life, because everything happens for a reason: “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.”
But I regret quitting, especially since I finished just one check and still managed a fifth out of nine – only two completed all five checks.
There’s power in regret: using it to do things differently the next time I want to quit when something I encounter doesn’t meet my expectations, and rain falls for days leading up to the race and turns the tacky course into an iceskating rink.
From the moment I crossed the starting line and my tires skidded around the first turn, I felt trapped and cold, both my bike and my body uncomfortable skating through water-soaked ruts, and I was terrified of going fast, crashing (check), getting stuck (check) and losing my gloves, goggles and grip (check). Once that happened, I lost focus completely and couldn’t get out of the fog of fear, (nor did I want to), so I pulled off after the first checkpoint. Looking back, I should have pushed through my fears and faced them head-on. I should have just said, “Bring it on,” “I love fear,” and “Fear sets me free.” I should have turned against my fear and pushed back with confidence in my skills and my equipment, regardless of what I was experiencing on the outside feeling unprepared. I should have considered it a learning opportunity, since I rarely encounter knee-deep underwater conditions, especially when it’s cold, wet and raining.
So, I’m learning to live with it, and I imagine going back and making a different choice. Next time, it will be easier to keep going, and I will be less scared, because I’ve learned that fear is not absolute; it’s relative to the direction you’re going, and if you move toward your fear over and over again in life, you’re less afraid.
Plus, nothing bad would have happened had I forged on (most likely) so I was actually fearful of a situation that did not even exist and more worried about my times at each checkpoint or others’ perception of my finish. When, in order to be fully myself, I should have shoved my fears aside and maintained the stance that I was going to give whatever I had to give, instead of hiding from myself and my inexperience as a mud rider. After all, the only thing that will actually improve my mud riding skill is mud riding.
Too bad I only discovered this truth in hindsight.
“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” – Henry David Thoreau.