Everyday Wonders: What to Do With Regret

Topics: AdventurescreativitymistakesWriting
Rock climber

This week I listened to Kristen Bell talk about her beliefs and how she has grown and changed in a podcast I’m still enjoying. Even as I admired her wisdom, I couldn’t help but think about how I missed my chance to meet her over an overflowing toilet.

It all started when my mother and I went to listen to her husband Rob Bell discuss his book How to be Here Now. It was a smaller event with only about a hundred people attending. We sat up close and could raise our hands to ask him questions, and I loved listening to Rob give the spontaneous talk. He somehow used his skills to keep us engaged for six hours.

The only downside was the bathroom situation. The wooden-floored dance hall in Portland had two toilets for a hundred people so the line snaked around during every break. When I finally made it to the commode, it had handled more than it could bear. The thing was beginning to overflow.

I can’t remember what I did. There might have been a plunger to use.

But I do remember walking out of the restroom and looking for someone to tell. A brunette about my age sat on a bench outside the restroom talking to people who looked like the staff. I waved my arms and babbled something about the toilet. She gave me a small smile and said she would let someone know.

As I walked away, I realized I had just spoken to Kristen Bell. And I’d just babbled about a toilet. I missed my chance to shake her hand and maybe even laugh for a moment about how ridiculous it was to meet someone that way.

That wasn’t the first or last time I missed an opportunity. In December, I saw that Ira Glass was coming to the Rialto in Tacoma in June of 2018 to speak on the art of storytelling. The tickets were 40 dollars and I knew right then I wanted to go. But I waited to buy those tickets, always thinking I would do it tomorrow. Next weekend. The next.

It’s March now. The tickets are now over a hundred dollars and I won’t be able to go.

It’s painful to think about these things, so I often don’t but as I considered what to write this week, Kristen and Ira popped into my head and refused to go away.

Here’s a thing I’ve learned from writing that helps a smidgen:

Every time I write or revise something, I work to make it better. Not perfect. Not even super good. Just a bit better.

This takes the sting out of that feeling that I will never get it right. Maybe I won’t. But when I aim for it, I find making it better within my reach. (I didn’t come up with this myself. I learned it from Dan Blank, a creative coach and teacher.)

It’s a little like the rock climbing I once did where I focused on each and every move one at a time, looking for a place that would hold me rather than the one perfect answer.

Rock Climbing

And so it goes in life, too. I will again miss my chance to meet someone over a toilet or some other crazy thing, I’m sure. But I won’t stop trying to recognize my opportunities the moment I see them and make life better one handhold at a time.




About the author: Karrie Zylstra Myton is a blogger, essayist, and aspiring author who writes for the wild joy it brings on the best days and the hard lessons she learns about life on the worst. After crafting stories in the ridiculously early morning hours, she chases her two sons, cuddles with cats, and laughs with her husband about how crazy life can get in middle age.

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