Making Choices: Dread, Regret + The Intensity of Change

I’m feeling a lot of TRANSITION in the air lately. Lots of changes and new paths. While exciting, it also can feel really unsettling and complicated during the transition. To be honest, there are times when I’m on a high … and times when I simply want to puke from the uncertainty of it all. Kinda like being on a roller coaster!


Recently, my yoga teacher Mark walked us through his own transition to let go of his regular Monday night class that he has taught for YEARS.

In fact, it was his Monday night class that got me through my first year of change when I moved from New York to Massachusetts so I was particularly sad that he was letting it go. His class was my anchor and rock. I liked the class so much that my husband Steven started coming. We made it into our date night and looked forward to it weekly.

Well, time’s change and season’s change and Mark realized that he was starting to DREAD his Monday night class because he was starting to miss out on his kids’ evening activities (he’s a single dad to his two sons). They were getting older and needed him in new ways. He didn’t want to DREAD every Monday evening as he felt pulled in too many directions.

He also wondered if he’d REGRET his choice to let his class go. He had really built a following and it’s hard to just walk away from something that’s played an important role in your life (and your income).

Oh, the dichotomy … when faced with a choice to keep things as they are or follow your gut about what you need right now, we so often wonder if we’ll REGRET the change.

Can you relate?

Well, on Mark’s final Monday night class, he shared a beautiful poem during savasana that lingered with me long after that class ended.

I share it with you now to give you something to ponder as we move into a new season, a new reason for being, and a reminder that YOU get to design your life any way you choose. It’s a beautiful part of being a human being.


is a short, evocative and achingly beautiful word; an elegy to lost possibilities even in its brief annunciation, it is also a rarity and almost never heard except where the speaker insists that they have none, that they are brave and forward looking and could not possibly imagine their life in any other way than the way it is. To admit regret is to understand we are fallible: that there are powers in the world beyond us: to admit regret is to lose control not only of a difficult past but of the very story we tell about our present; and yet strangely, to admit sincere and abiding regret is one of our greatest but unspoken contemporary sins.

The rarity of honest regret may be due to our contemporary emphasis on the youthful perspective; it may be that a true, useful regret is not a possibility or a province of youth; that it takes a hard-won maturity to experience the depths of the emotion in ways that do not overwhelm and debilitate us but put us into a proper, more generous relationship with the future. Except for brief senses of having missed a tide, having hurt another, having taken what is not ours, youth is not yet ready for the rich current of abiding regret that runs through and emboldens a mature human life.

Sincere regret may in fact be a faculty for paying attention to the future, for sensing a new tide where we missed a previous one, for experiencing timelessness with a grandchild where we neglected a boy of our own. To regret fully is to appreciate how high the stakes are in even the average human life; fully experienced, regret turns our eyes, attentive and alert to a future possibly lived better than our past.

From Readers’ Circle Essay, “Regret”
©2011 David Whyte


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