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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Column: Feet first, eyes closed

Putting your children to bed with stories about what you could have been and what kinds of opportunities you missed earlier in your lifetime is terrible. Too often people are paralyzed by fear of failure or inadequacy and find themselves painted over with regret later in their lives. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Our lives are defined by opportunities. Even the ones we miss.”

This rings true for just about anything and everything, but I am not talking about opportunities like impulse buys. Those are coin flips for disaster – – trusttrust me. I spent five minutes in Fry’s Electronics just looking to browse and came out with a Playstation 3 that I hardly ever use. Smart buy, Larry! No, I’m talking about things that could matter in the long run, such as activities or even relationships that possibly interest you. You know, things that can make you happy.

I first adopted some of this mentality last spring. Now, I’ve never thought of myself as a fitness god, let alone a runner. Sure, I did some short leisure jogs in South Davis and a few workouts at the ARC every other week. Otherwise, I lived a mostly sedentary lifestyle up until one sunny Wednesday. That faithful day, my friend Stephanie invited me to join her on one of her “trite” five-mile jogs. I learned what five miles really meant to my feet.

“Fuck that,” I initially thought to myself. My mind was plagued with questions of failure, like “What if I can’t last?” or “What happens if I die?!” But I had never done anything like this before, so I threw away my inhibitions and ran on a whim. What was left afterward was a sore, teary-eyed Larry with some of the worst blisters on his feet, but he had no regrets. In fact, he wanted more.

Perhaps my pride was hurt from putting up such a poor performance, but that following weekend I waltzed into a running shoe store without a second thought. I walked out a little over $100 poorer, but had obtained a fine pair of silver Brooks.

After a couple of runs, I was hooked. I found that I really did enjoy running and haven’t looked back since. I eventually found myself sore and spent again – only this time, I had just run my firstthe Davisville Moo-nlight half marathon and had the best macaroni and cheese ever to nourish myself.

Don’t go on cowering underneath that big ol’ safety blanket of yours when it comes to good opportunities that could potentially prove fun and worthwhile. It simply isn’t worth it. If you do, you may find yourself unhappy and plagued with regret.

Regret can be a pretty big burden. Truly. A study at Columbia University found that feelings of regret often increase over time for most people who decided to pass up opportunities for fun. They sampled college students (that’s most of you) and found that many of them expressed more regret for inactions seeded in the distant past than the recent ones.

Don’t be the one wondering “What if?” and day dreaming about what could have been down the line. We’ve all been down that road, and we should all know that it goes nowhere. Get the answers for yourself and you should be in for a jolly good time.

A friend of mine once told me, “Just know what you want.” If you want it bad enough, take the dive. Jump in with your feet first and eyes closed. Should you experience failure as you initially feared, you can’t say you never tried it, and that is a feat in itself. It would sting only momentarily. Life barrels on, so live a little and give it your best.

LARRY HINH has missed some big opportunities for sweet things. Don’t miss yours, and let him know if you succeed at lthinh@ucdavis.edu.

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