Existence is a junkyard of potentialities and wreckage from past progresses.
Since existence is only linear looking back, and vast and seemingly limitless moving forward, and always, sometimes ruthlessly, moving forward, that which does not happen is destroyed. The power of agency–and denial of that agency is to demythologize everything outright; that said, calvinus delenda est–is not merely freedom to choose and act, but to relegate that which might have been to absolute non-being.
While we move through this existence, life sometimes resembles the light cycles in Tron: forward movement goes sideways, and someone or something is obliterated. A person hits a patch of ice and dies in a head-on collision; airplanes carpet-bomb cities; ideas and echoes of past civilizations destroyed by a barbaric mutation of modern culture. The decisions need not be that dramatic, either. The simple task of turning left instead of right, if Donna Noble be a valid example, creates–and necessarily destroys–potentialities. Sometimes subtle, sometimes overt and drastic. Choosing one thing is to reject another, allowing one thing to survive is to permit something else loss. (Draw your own soteriological/christological conclusion here.)
The future is an amalgam of seemingly limitless possibility, constantly negated by the choices we make on a daily basis.
What, then, of regret?
Regret, then, can be seen as the encounter of the debris of that which never was. It is to be examined, reflected upon, and stepped over. There is no stopping. After all, it never was, lest we fall again into an unnaturalistic fallacy of sorts. We also can learn from that which never was, while also choosing to create a matrix of possibilities which can have great and terrible consequences, for life and healing or death and destruction.
Some ideas are hideous enough to need to be obliterated, as well; the wreckage of which serves as a cautionary tale to those who stumble upon it. Then again, Christendom nearly destroyed Plato and Aristotle. Few would like to see the revival of Nazism. Sometimes, we are reckless with our ability to choose and destroy. Other times, it is right and righteous to do so.
Then, there are instances when a person is confronted with potential. The crisis of conscience, the mid-life crisis, the fork in the road. In those instances, we can only trust that we have the wisdom–divinely inspired or just plain ol’ intuition–to think forward and imagine the scenarios played out. Often times, the choice is clear; sometimes, no result could be anything resembling positive with everything ending in wreckage. Like Reservoir Dogs. Or millennialism.
Agency is a powerful thing, and the adminition for us to tread lightly with matters of great or even trifling concern is probably unnecessary. Existence is a self-referential caveat. That said, the very fact that anything makes any sense at all, that we find ourselves where we are, and are able to create an existence which can be a genuine blessing to others is in itself an echo of the great hope of salvation and the presence of God’s grace in a downright harrowing state of affairs that which we refer to as every day life.
Create with care, and live without fear.