We're in that really weird time of year right now where the days are short and the dark nights feel disorientingly long. I never can quite get used to the time at which it gets dark in Salt Lake City. Night after night, as the darkness sets in, I think it's much later than it is.

I believe it's 10:00, although it's only 6:30. I'm ready to climb into bed on a weekend night even though the same time on a week night would see me just leaving the office.

There's something so strange about winter night time. The darkness. The cold. It makes the world stay inside. The streets are quiet. Peaceful, yet lonely. And it's always odd for me to think that those same streets at another time of year but the same time of day are bustling and hustling and alive with excitement of a much different season.

Now, in November, my city streets are contemplative. Dead. Simple. And as the year starts dying down, I always become more reflective. Sort of like, probably, the elderly person at the end of a very long and active life.

I think about the way the year has unfolded. The way I have unfolded it. I think about the people I've known and the struggles I've lived. I wonder how I would counsel myself at the beginning of it, knowing what I know now, if I could go to the beginning of it and counsel myself.

Would I tell myself to avoid someone altogether or would I let myself live the burdens of heartache, knowing that heartache can sometimes be the best reality check on our priorities and decisions?

Would I beg my former self to react differently to evolving circumstances or would I decide that I'm content enough now and it's not worth risking a change of the status quo at the hands of empowered hindsight?

Would telling myself to avoid hurting someone else be fruitless because the counsel would be interpreted by a former version of myself who lacks the wisdom and capacity to understand it?

People say you should live your life without regrets. But I don't think those people believe you should live your life without mistakes. So that just means that you're supposed to live your life in some way that allows you not to regret your mistakes.

I don't know how to do that. I don't know whether that means that we're supposed to avoid making the kinds of mistakes you're supposed to regret or whether it means that you're not supposed to regret any kind of mistakes at all.

Regret is an odd feeling. Usually an unproductive one. It doesn't make the past different. It often does nothing more than taint our attitude about it. Maybe that's what those people mean. It's a waste of life to regret. So rather than regret the errors, it's better to contemplate them. Digest them. Allow them to build wisdom within us.

We spend a lot of time wondering how we might have done things differently. Maybe that's not a pointless pursuit. Maybe it helps us better navigate our present choices when we thoroughly analyze the past. But in excess, it's probably a waste of time. And it might be harmful, inasmuch as it causes us to exhaust the same emotional capital needed to try to figure out how we're supposed to act now.

I don't know.

And maybe it doesn't matter whether I know. But my mind just keeps running. Probably because it's that time of year and the nights are feeling disorientingly long.

~It Just Gets Stranger