Regrets

The main tragedy of my life is that I made the same basic mistake over and over. All of my life. . . I’d realize I was making a mistake. And that I’d regret making the mistake. But I still made the mistake anyways. Over and over. All of my life.

It really made me wonder how much we could ever really change our basic character. And that our basic character is basically engrained. And the best we can do is just try to live with it as best we can. . . When I think back on almost all the people I’ve known over the years, the basic person that they were when I first met them, was basically the exact same person they still were decades later. None of them ever really changed much over the years.. Maybe they changed by degrees, by increments, but that was about it.

A large part of comedy is based on the engrained nature of our character. Charlie Brown is gullible and he falls for Lucy pulling the football out from under him every time. And he never really learns. He may learn his lesson in the last panel. But he has to learn that basic lesson over and over. Because it’s simply his character. Who he is. With comedy, one’s character makes one act foolishly. But it doesn’t really damage you or destroy you like in tragedy. But it’s still the same basic theme. All the great tragedies of literature follow the same basic theme of the main character being destroyed by his engrained character flaws. There can often be this Sisyphean nature to our character, that dooms us to push the same rock up the hill, only to have it fall down the other side. Over and over. Forever.

Ram Dass — who had a PHD in Psychology from Harvard — used to say: “No matter who’s the therapist, or what the therapy is: About one-third of the patients get better, one-third of the patients get worse, and one-third of the patients stay the same.” And though I’m not sure if this is literally true. There’s probably a grain of truth to it.. I’ve known people who were able to make peace with their demons. And I’ve known other people who were destroyed by the demons. But the basic demons in their character remained throughout their lives.

I’ve heard that a common mistake people make going into relationships, is they start out thinking they are going to change the things about their partner that they don’t like. These relationships are usually doomed to failure, due to the unchangeable nature of most people’s basic character. The relationships that seem to work are the ones who go into them basically accepting their partner for who they are, warts and all.

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