I may try to avoid regret in my life, but I am also avoiding other things all of the time.
I like to avoid other people. Discomfort. Embarrassment. Disappointment. Freeway traffic. Valet parking.
At times, I refuse to look in the mirror, just to avoid myself.
Those times I avoid stepping on the scale, I usually imagine my weight gain as far worse as it actually is. But if I go too long without facing that number at my feet, my worst fears may just come true.
Still, I am the Queen of Avoidance. If something happens that I don't like, I can just ignore it. Years ago I had my annual dental checkup, conducted by some other dentist in the practice, since my dentist was away or out sick or otherwise absent for some reason. The other dentist – who'd never examined me before – diagnosed me with a cavity, my first cavity ever, and tried to schedule me to come in and have a filling.
I refused to accept that I might have a cavity. I refused to return for the next appointment. In fact, I refused to return for three years, terrified of the drilling and filling that I was going to have to face. This hung over my head for three years, but eventually, my mouth got so uncomfortable, I was convinced I'd given myself many more cavities by neglecting the regular cleanings I was used to.
I knew I finally had to face the music, go back to the dentist, and submit to whatever treatment they prescribed, no matter how bad.
When I returned – thankfully to my dentist – he said, "You don't have a cavity. You're probably never going to have a cavity if you don't have one by now. But you do have a lot of plaque and tartar build-up from hiding from us and not coming for three years."
These things we avoid, they hang over us like an oncoming storm – whether it's the dirty dishes in the sink, the washed laundry that needs folding, or the dirty laundry that needs washing. They obscure, distract, overwhelm and eclipse the things we might enjoy and appreciate.
So last week, I decided to free myself from one of the many albatrosses that plague me: after six months of deferring, I got my taxes done.
And, it turns out, I owe thousands of dollars less than I thought I owed.
And, although I still owe thousands of dollars, it's not as bad as I thought.
And, when it comes to the federal government, it's better to come to them with your tail between your legs and beg for mercy, than to try to avoid them.
There's a great power in being able to confess you don't know something, or admit you're wrong, or cop to a mistake. Trying to hide the truth – and the inevitable – only weakens the spirit and drains the soul.
Just face the music. Sometimes the Universe can be merciful.
I Refuse to Worry