Wednesday, January 02, 2008

January Is Excess: Regrets

This post kicks off M&G's January theme: Excess! As I mentioned earlier, this is purely in opposition to the blast of wellness and healthy living content that most media throws at us at the start of a new year. Yes, I have a big "rejoin the gym and work out constantly" plan. But I intend to counteract my calorie-burning by eating copious amounts of red meat and drinking lots and lots of wine (good for me, too!).

Fortunately, I'm starting the new year off on the right foot. Sure, I was a little fuzzy yesterday thanks to the night before, but for the most part, I'm happy and healthy now just like I was on December 31st. I don't have a lot of major complaints - I'm mostly a pretty lucky person (knock on wood-I'm also a pretty superstitious person).

But that doesn't mean I don't have some regrets or, maybe more accurately, questions, especially regarding the career/life path I've chosen. I'm constantly wondering what my life would've been like if I'd, say, gone to grad school for art history instead of business. Or what if I had moved to Europe for a year after college, instead of heading home to Annapolis? Maybe my life would be wildly exciting and somehow better, or maybe I would be miserable. Certainly it would be different.

I'll never know, and all I can do about that right now is pester my sister to take a different path than mine, so I can live vicariously through her. I am very happy with my life as it is, but ruminating on "lost possible lives" is something that alternately entertains and frustrates me. Probably it's even why I blog.

Apparently I'm not alone in these thoughts. In fact, I'm so not alone that in yesterday's NYT, Benedict Carey wrote an article on the subject. It's interesting from a navel-gazing point of view and even potentially useful if you're going through some sort of tragedy.

And how, pray tell, is this at all about food? Well, it is. Because even though the article focuses on big life choices (selecting a career path, getting married or divorced, etc.) decision making has the power to haunt us in a million small ways every day. One of the most noticeable, I think, is in how we decide what to eat.

I feel the biggest impact of my small food decisions when I'm in a restaurant. Unless I'm going to a regular spot where I always order the same thing, I tend to have a tough time deciding what to eat. And at least 50% of the time, I end up wishing I'd ordered something else, either because what I ordered wasn't good, or it wasn't what I really wanted, or someone else ordered something better.

Regret (or lack thereof) can make or break a meal and can forever color my impression of a restaurant. But maybe now that I've thought it through, I'll take more responsibility for my experience, placing less blame on the restaurant.

Though I could also hold out hope that, I'll be magically free of poor restaurant choices in 2009. So far, my slate is clean...

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