Regrets

TIM KREIDER’s essay, “The Summer That Never Was,” captures the longings of someone who had laid out his plans for a trip to Iceland, a to-do list that never materialized. (I want to go to Iceland, too, partly because the landscapes look like they're from another planet, partly because I want to learn how to pronounce the weird names of places.) There’s a familiar tone to it, I suppose: the fact that the possibilities for travel, leisure, and adventure are endless; yet I am limited by my career, which, in a sense, is of my own choosing. The essay speaks volumes to me, a doctor in training trapped—by choice—in the hospital, wanting to do so much more.

He writes,

"I’m not old but I’m not young anymore, either, and if you’re a procrastinator and a ditherer like me you can manage to sustain until well into midlife the delusion that you might yet get around to doing all the things you meant to do; making a movie, getting married, living in Paris. But at some point you start to suspect that you might not end up doing that stuff after all, and have to consider the possibility that the life you have right now might pretty much be it."

He continues,

"I suspect that the way I feel now, at summer’s end, is about how I’ll feel at the end of my life, assuming I have time and mind enough to reflect: bewildered by how unexpectedly everything turned out, regretful about all the things I didn’t get around to, clutching the handful of friends and funny stories I’ve amassed, and wondering where it all went. And I’ll probably still be evading the same truth I’m evading now: that the life I ended up with, much as I complain about it, was pretty much the one I chose. And my dissatisfactions with it are really with my own character, with my hesitation and timidity."

I don’t know what to make of this, but do give it a few minutes of your time, especially if you’re well into your twenties, ready to conquer the world, but can’t seem to get around your schedule.

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