A short story about a man on a plane. At the end are some regrets quotes to get you thinking about how you may want to start considering your life.
At an airport once, I sat with a man so terrified of his regrets that he had to share them to find any joy. We were waiting for a flight to Spain. He was heading to Norway where we had I had my layover.
We were both in the waiting area not too far from the smokers lounge. He had a suitcase between the both of us, the catalyst to everything you are about to read.
I took a glance downward, noting where his brown box was to avoid my foot touching it, that is when he spoke.
“Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.” ― ROY T. BENNETT
“Don’t worry. If you kick it, it won’t kick back,” the man said in an accent I couldn’t place. I smiled politely expecting nothing more. “Heading over to Norway,” he asked with a cheeky grin.
“No. No. I have a layover. This flight was the cheapest I could find,” I replied, catching myself from saying too much as I usually do.
“Well when you get a chance, head over to Norway,” the old man with a scruffy grey beard said stretching his back.
“I hear it is beautiful,” I lied.
“It certainly is. That’s why I am heading over there. My first time.”
“Oh you are not going home,” I said fumbling with the appropriate responses. I have never been very good at small talk.
The old man and I chatted for a while until we both decided to get in line to board the plane. After a few steps, I checked my ticket for the correct seat and asked where he was seated.
“A-6-C,” the old man said.
“Ah, looks like you are going to be close to the pilot, wish we could talk more, but I am all the way at the back.” He squinted. We tell many white lies in during our introductory conversations, and the old man must have heard all of them.
As the flight attendant nodded us in, checking our tickets he asked, “if it okay if my friend here sits next to me. It is going to be a long flight, and I could use the company.”
“Sure, after takeoff, if not one is next to you. I’ll make sure he gets a seat next to you,” the woman with the red dress and blue scarf reassured.
Sure enough, a few minutes after the fasten seatbelt sign dimmed, the same woman came to me.
“Looks like you can sit next to your friend. He is up there, and there is no one next to him.”
Jacque is the most interesting man I have ever met.
“I am not interesting, but I could have been,” Jacque said closing the tray in front of him. “An interesting man does things because he wants to, I do them so I can stop regretting them, and you know what happens?”
“You regret them even more?”
He was taken aback.
“Why yes. Do you know why?”
“No,” I lied again. Politeness has its way of begging insincerity. What sort of impression would I have made on Jacques if I told him I had met many people like him and seen his sorting their masses soaking up old dreams in new places.
“If we are going to be friends, might want to be more honest with me,” Jacque warned. “I wish I did more when I was your age you know. Where are you headed to again?”
“I was in Madrid two months ago. I am old now, but I had always wanted to visit the place since I was little. I had a history teacher from Spain who always said the same thing. ‘Don’t worry. Don’t worry.’ And when you fail the same exam twice that is the last thing you typically hear from teachers. I wanted to know what sort of place made teachers like that.”
“Well. Maybe it had nothing to do with where he was from and more to do with a quirk in his personality.”
“I know that. I knew that, but that was it for me. I had to see Spain. Plus the women there, you know,” Jacque winked.
“But you said you regretted it? Why?”
“Spain was everything I imagined it to be, but I was no longer the person that I imagined myself being there. Trust me, kid. You do not want to strike off goals on your bucket list with trembling wrists.”
“I know what you mean. But hey you did it right,” I cheered trying to wake the life back into Jacques’ eyes.
We talked about his business. His daughter. And he told me about his late wife, but eventually, he came back to the same topic.
“One doesn’t recognize the really important moments in one’s life until it’s too late.” — AGATHA CHRISTIE
“Have you been to Budapest yet?”
“No, but I want to take my girlfriend there at some point.”
“Never some point. Never at some point, because that point never gets here, something always gets in the way. If you are going to go somewhere with your girlfriend, then go. Do not waste time talking about it,” Jacque remonstrated like a father talking to his son.
“Yea but some things need to be planned. Like money right?”
“Then sell that laptop you keep staring at and go. If I were your age, I would go.”
“Yea. But you eventually did everything you wanted and were able to have a family and a business. If I just did everything I wanted, I’d never be stable enough to get most of what I need to do anything else. I just dropped out of my masters, can’t take a lot more risks,” I laughed and then stopped as I watched Jacque slink into his seat a bit.
“Perhaps you are right. Everyone thinks they are right from their perspective.”
We didn’t talk for about thirty minutes, and I was thinking about going back to my seat but felt guilty for allowing the old man to stew in his regrets all alone.
“I don’t get it,” I began as if I spent the entire time thinking about it. “Sounds like you did everything you set your mind to. I get that you left travelling pretty late but late is better than never right?”
Jacque took a while to respond.
“When I was in Plaza Mayor, I remember staggering through the place. Legs aren’t what they used to be. Then I sat down and looked at my hands. They aren’t what they used to be either.But I was still looking at Madrid as that boy in school.”
“You were there, but not really there.”
“You can say it. I am old. And god damn I would have loved to walk up to some of the girls there just to hand one of them a flower.”
“Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so.” — DAVID GRAYSON
We both laughed.
“You still think like that?”
“Your mind doesn’t age much throughout your life. You learn a few things, but it is still you. And I wish I could have enjoyed Madrid. I wish I could enjoy Norway, but I know I am going to be another old man doing some sightseeing.”
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“You know what you see when you see young people travelling?”
“Adventure,” Jacque belted.
“And some rich parents.”
“You see retirement when we do it. How I would love to do something silly in a place, I have never been, and I would. But these bones won’t let me. I never wanted to retire into the things I always wanted. I wanted them to be an adventure. So like you say, better late than never. But you really should sell that damn laptop.”
“Maybe I will now,” I lied again.
“You think it is enough to do what you want at some point. But then what are you doing now if it is not what you want? Putting off your dreams for the company of regret. You should have your dreams but not with regret.”
“It is not your bones and the waiting that has betrayed you. That’s not how I see it.”
“Wonderful experiences do not belong to any specific moment. You can make new memories now. But you waste time with your regrets. .”
CLICK HERE FOR MORE REGRETS QUOTES