How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains?… Yeah… Coach woulda put me in fourth quarter, we would’ve been state champions. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.
-Uncle Rico, Napoleon Dynamite
I was never really good at football. By that I mean my mom was a little protective and I never got to play. I really don’t mind, football is a dangerous sport anyways.
This blog post isn’t about football though, this blog post is about regret and denial.
I know, I know. Maxwell you said this wasn’t going to be a lifestyle blog. Maxwell I thought you were going to do more music reviews. Maxwell, why don’t you talk about games or math or something.
I am going to live in denial a little bit and say that this post is really a character analysis more than it is a lifestyle commentary, although you can expect it to devolve into some form of rant. The character I am partially analyzing is Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.
If you haven’t seen Napoleon Dynamite
shame on you I understand. It is a strange movie where it doesn’t really feel like there is a solid plot and every character is a caricature of an actual human.
Uncle Rico is the uncle to the main character Napoleon. That’s about it. He really doesn’t have much going for him. He is the caricature of regret and denial.
Although a grown man, Uncle Rico constantly references high school and how his coach didn’t put him in during state football championships. Most of his screen time is taken up by watching him record himself throwing footballs, aimlessly.
One of the scenes depicts him trying to use a (fake) time machine, so he can go back in time and correct the mistakes of the past.
His character is the epitome of denial, spending all of his present time wallowing, believing he should have earned something that is now long gone and out of reach.
Do not be like Uncle Rico.
If you don’t play football, you are halfway there.
I’m just kidding though, everyone probably has dealt with denial or regret. Everyone’s life is littered with mistakes, good days, bad days, alright days and so on and so forth. It is easy to get bogged down by a bad day and then caught up in a fond memory and think that you were so much better off then. The fact is you are selecting data and creating bad math.
And here is where I start talking about math.
First off, as humans we have an innate ability to see patterns and analyze things. I don’t mean we do it well, honestly we are pretty terrible at it. Optical illusions play on our brain’s desire to see patterns, and people still assume that 939578991 is more random than 123456789.
Now here is what you need to know about life and then about statistics.
No matter how hard you try you are going to have a bad day, if your life is amazing and awesome in every way you are still going to have bad moments, and still going to have regrets about your life.
On the flipside though, no matter how terrible and depressing your life is you are still going to at least have a couple of good moments.
The fact is that no matter how much you don’t like statistics, your life is a scatterplot. The ultimate goal in life is to be an upward trending scatterplot, kind of like the one below.
The Y-axis would be your overall self-satisfaction.
The X-axis is time (how classic).
The line not only is the average but what you believe the satisfaction you should be getting out of your day is.
People that get too stuck in the past have a graph that looks like this.
Notice that it putters out.
If you get too attached to a memory and find yourself saying that those were the glory days, that you no longer can be as good as you were, that you PEAKED, then this is probably what your life is like. You never actually get back to that level of self-satisfaction because you are now comparing your entire life to a single event.
The best way to remedy this is by first coming to the realization that you did not in fact peak. If you are life-ing properly you should peak when you die.
You are going to have good memories and they will define you.
You are going to have bad memories and they will define you.
The important part is that they aren’t unreachable.
If you live your life saying that you can never reach the pit that is your worst memory, then the rug could slip out from under and you could make the same mistake.
If you live your life saying that you can never reach the heaven that is your best memory, then I guarantee right now that you never will.
Your good memories should be motivation for how great your life can be. You should stop at nothing to the consistently reach the level of satisfaction of those memories. You can never relive those memories but you can make new memories that are just as great if not better.
Your bad memories should be there to motivate you to do better. Realistically, no matter how motivated or talented or happy or complete you are there will always be a bad day every now and then. The point of your bad memories is to minimize these bad days and the problems that they cause. You can’t fix them because they have passed, but you can learn from them.
All in all, the past is the past and we can’t ever reach it again, so use it as a lesson and then move on. The only part your present self can effect is your future self, and the only part your future self can thank is your past self.