"I am sorry, you are not a Vulcan."
This is what my aunt who has Asperger’s Syndrome said to me one day in a parking lot of a Chinese restaurant when I asked her about the feeling of past regret and how to deal with it. I think she really was sorry and thought my life would be easier if I was a Vulcan. And in a way, I suppose it would.
I wouldn’t have to deal with all these neuro-normal wishy-washy feelings, choices, and interpretations of reality.
I would simply look at each unfolding situation, clearly see what the next right action was, and do it.
The truth is that it’s a lot more complicated for most of us.
When we look at a situation, we see it through our psychological filters. These filters are made of our past experiences, our perception of what we want the outcome to be, and even how we think others may feel about it (which is impossible to know, by the way).
Added to that is the fact that we, as living creatures, are different day-to-day. How we have slept the night before, the foods we ate yesterday, our general state of health both physical and mental, the external stresses in our lives like jobs, families, and world events… all of these things affect our present state. And if like me you have very vivid dreams, some days are filtered through what happened in your unconscious brain at night. Jeez.
All of this together makes the next right thing a moving target. Sometimes the next right thing is to tackle your to-do list, make that phone call you have been putting off, and make things happen! Other days it is taking a nap and ordering in dinner.
I used to really, really want to find the magic set of things I needed:
the perfect foods, routine, and movement, and do it day after day and be in perfect balance for the rest of my life.
Alas, I am not a Vulcan. And when it comes right down to it, it is the varied experiences of life that make it interesting.
Some of the things that give me the most pleasure in life are not rational and I love them.
The example that comes to mind is owning dogs. They take time, money, and emotional energy. The first year or so is very labor-intensive, and there are lots of things to clean up. And yet, I love them. Their furry bodies, the way they smell, how expressive and loyal they are. My life is deeply enriched by them.
To paraphrase Mary Oliver, allow your soft animal body to love what it loves.
And accept that because we are in these sweet animal bodies that each day will affect them a little differently, and our needs will change accordingly.
Please take yourself and your changing needs into consideration each day. The kinder you are to yourself on a daily basis, the more enjoyable life becomes.
(And I mean true kindness, not giving into each approaching hedonistic moment. Except for sometimes, when that's what you need.)