There are two oft-repeated truisms that always make me clench my fists in irritation at their sheer falsity. One is ‘you only regret the things you didn’t do’. This is absolute pish. I spend far too much of my spare time regretting the things that I have done in the past. One of the reason I need music in my life so badly is that I can easily place headphones over my ugly head and have the excessive volume of wonderful art black out the whirring commotion of my own mind. The grinding, remorseless drone of (ahem) 29 years of regrets replaying in my mind. A more accurate saying would be ‘you only regret the things that you absolutely did that you dearly wish you didn’t‘. You only regret the people you didn’t do? Fair enough. I mean, that woman at the Young Fathers gig, fuck, how did I mess that up?
However, such an insanely perspective of the nature of regret is offset by the feeling that ‘you can’t change the past’, or ‘what’s done is done’ or ‘the past is in the past’. It’s insanely easy to change the past. ‘The past’ is simply our reactions to history, just how we choose to view incidents that have raced past us on the fourth dimensional cortex and are now in the rear view mirror. The past is that guy with the thick set eyebrows that you drove past on the way to the restaurant. By the time you’re talking about him over food, the past becomes Martin Scorcese, because you’ve all convinced yourselves that it was. That’s how you view the past. That’s how you choose to interpret the past. That is the past. Later, somebody throws you the suggestion that who you actually saw on Cheltenham High Street was highly unlikely to be Martin Scorcese. They say who you actually saw was far more likely to be Eugene Levy. You accept the hypothesis. It was Mr. Levy that you saw. The past in changed.