When I look back at my body of work I feel conflicting emotions. There’s pride because what little I have accomplished is more than I ever thought I was capable of. But at the same time I’m haunted by whispers of unfulfilled potential. I see ideas with latent energy and stories that demand more love and attention than I’ve been willing to give.
I see this because my interest in an idea or story often runs out before I’ve explored its full extent. I get a few hundred words down, then find an excuse to not take it as far as I could. Maybe I want something to eat or feel the need for another caffeine hit. Or perhaps I tell myself that I’ve done enough for today. But usually, I haven’t, and this is what haunts me when I look back at my writing.
I encounter the same ghost when I consider other areas of my life. What have I missed out on by only giving eighty percent of myself when I train Brazilian jiu-jitsu or lift weights? What have I missed out on by thinking about the past, the future or an alternate present when I’m spending time with someone I love? In the entirety of my life, how many opportunities have I failed to grasp—or even notice—because I’ve been unwilling to live fully and to the best of my ability?
The answer, I fear, is too much and too many. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Mistakes don’t have to be monsters that hound our steps. They can be mentors that guide us, if we so choose. So perhaps, in the future, I can use the whispers that haunt me to help me atone for my regrets.