What I won’t regret

Choosing our lovethings

For most of my life, I did the thing so many people do – I would postpone taking time for something I loved until I finished a list of chores.  I told myself the lovething was a reward for finishing all my chores but somehow, the chores list was never finished.  I would occasionally, begrudgingly, give some time to the lovething, but I would never let myself fully drop into it.

When I got the contract for Building, I found myself in a pickle.  I hadn’t developed any sort of a discipline around writing, but now I was committed to a big chunk of writing, and on a deadline.  It had become the task, the primary task, and I was so unprepared.  I got through it, but it was one of the most stressful anythings I’ve ever done, in part because I had never truly taken it seriously; I had not put in regular work.

We have all kinds of reasons for why we don’t treat our lovethings with the seriousness, the dedication, that they deserve.  Some of those reasons are legit, but I think there are a LOT of things we have been conditioned to prioritize that are simply not mundane tasks.  Because I had to find a way to discipline myself to the ongoing work (and because I love it and never want to neglect it again), I came up with a way to choose.  I ask myself this question whenever I can’t choose between mundane things of mostly equal priority:

When I am at the end of my life, which thing will I NEVER regret doing?”

I will never regret

making art instead of washing dishes

going for a walk with a friend

writing before working on taxes

taking a break from work chores to visit my plants

having a nap instead of cleaning the bathroom

eating delicious food that I didn’t cook


This is MY list.  Our lists will all be different, and may change to match our lives.

The regret question works best when the conditions for the choices are roughly equal.

A ‘never regret’ list is NOT a tool for you to flog yourself some more about your life choices.

A word on guilt

It’s easy to feel guilty when we do something that doesn’t feel “productive.” Many of us are taught from a very young age that all the creative pursuits we love (our lovethings) are not *real* work, and don’t deserve the dedication *real* work requires.  We either put away our lovethings entirely, or feel guilty or ashamed that they still call to us.  That guilt is what keeps us trapped in the list of chores, never actually getting to the reward at the end of the list.

Even when we do ‘reward’ ourselves, guilt and shame are the great destroyers of creativity. We feel unsatisfied about our efforts, convinced that we are terrible, untalented, unskilled. We forget that growing our lovethings requires care, commitment, consistency, discipline, learning, mistakes, and more learning. Nothing springs from us fully formed and immaculate, untouched by our effort over time.

Your lovething is as important as any other part of your life.  We are creative beings, and our lovethings are all about plunging into joyful, playful, electric, gorgeous, harmonious, squiggly, exuberant, weepy, sticky, life-filled experiences.  Giving ourselves permission to explore our lovethings can feel damn risky, but I know my life is so much more because I took those risks.

What are the day-to-day experiences and choices you will never regret?

A purple-spotted, magenta lovething with a light blue horn and golden mane runs down a rainbow
Lovethings and rainbows

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