This I Believe

joe - wyandotte, Michigan
Entered on August 22, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: integrity

I should have

What I believe in, and I’m sure what many people believe in, is living life in the present and leaving the past to its redundant self. Now, because I don’t want an angry mob of historians rioting in the streets and burning modern art exhibits (you know how they get), I should try and clarify this statement.

In my 28 years I have learned three irrefutable facts: one, no matter how many times my wife forces it on me I will always hate duck; two, the stove is hot, and will burn you, regardless of any good intentions you may have toward it; and three, combining the words “should” and “have” too often is a bad way to live life.

Looking back over life and analyzing mistakes and choices is as unavoidable as duck at my wife’s next office party. But it is not “mistakes” which I talk about. I’m talking about those moments when you knew the course of action which should have been taken and you let the moment glide past you without acting upon it. I call that point in time the “shouldhave” moment.

As it happens I have the best example for living a “shouldhave” moment. In my spare time I do some day trading in the stock market. The principle for this is an easy one to grasp: buy low and sell high; I try to follow this to the best of my abilities. But even in the best case scenario, when I have had a positive return on my investment, a “shouldhave” emerges, telling me, you should have waited and sold higher. Or it tells me you should have bought lower, it would have been a larger return. As it happens I have had these moments in other points in my life as well: like the time when I should have asked a very beautiful girl to dinner – instead of asking, I said au revoir; or the time I should have ordered the steak instead of the duck.

The thing with “shouldhaves” is there really is no right or wrong answer. It is just a second guessing of choices made, and which nothing can be done about. I thought this one summer day while I was driving down my suburban street: a peaceful feeling came over me and a weight was lifted off me that I had not noticed was there until it was gone.

I still have times when I think that I should have done this or I should have done that, but it is getting easier to let the combination of should and have slip from my lexicon. What I believe is living with shouldhave is a tough way to live and by dropping them one can live life today and not in the past, unless of course, that burn from the stove keeps taking you back, reminding you of what you should not have done.