It’s a dirty little word. One that we try not to cling to. One that we make life decisions to avoid. But the truth of the matter is, it’s real. And you are lying if you tell yourself there isn’t anything you regret. No matter how big or small, it sneaks up on you. We can spend minutes, days, weeks, even years convincing ourselves that there was a reason, a purpose, a greater meaning. And for some things there truly are. But some things, there is just no explaining away. Some decisions, or lack thereof, are just, well…regrettable.
I lost a mentor today. A man who believed in me, and my talent when I was unsure there was anything to believe in. When I first moved to L.A., I remember feeling incredibly, overwhelmingly NOT ready. I remember being in class and shrinking at the sight of the other dancers and the incredible talent, presence, and personality. Everyone seemed to be better, have more tricks, dress cooler, have more style, be prettier, skinnier, and just more than me. But I took class. A lot of class. And one fateful day, I wandered into the class of an incredibly legendary dancer, choreographer and teacher, Andre Fuentes. His movement, unlike any other class in LA, and honestly any class I had ever taken, just felt right. It was like his movement was made for my body. I wasn’t trying to do the moves, they just lived in me. I was able to reach a place where I wasn’t doing the steps, I was living truly, completely in the moment. And he noticed. He called me out into small groups. Put me on stage to showcase his work. Mentored me, pushed me, made me stronger, better, more confident. For three years, he was a beacon of guiding light in a city that can shine so brightly it blinds you. I practically lived in his classes and rehearsals. Being in the room while he created his choreography was exciting and inspiring. When we left LA for NYC, I missed his class terribly. But I found his movement vocabulary ingrained in my body. I would find his influence seeping out of my limbs as I danced. He had changed the way I moved and informed the way I saw choreography. He was a mentor, teacher and inspiration.
When we moved back to LA, I kept trying to get back into his class. But there was never a time that seemed to work. I never had the energy to go all the way out to the valley to take his class. I was too afraid to go back out of shape after having Avery. Class was too late. I had plans. I felt fat. The reasons piled up. I waited. And now, sadly, there is never going to be an opportunity to go. I missed my chance. And I regret it terribly. Andre passed away today…and beneath my sadness at the lost of a man who inspired so many, lies a belly full of deep regret. Regret that I never got a chance to tell him how much of a positive influence he had been in my career and life. Regret that I didn’t get the chance to reconnect and take his class. Regret. In FOUR years…FOUR years, I couldn’t find the time, the energy, the courage to go back. The regret is deep and full.
So to honor Andre, I will dance. It has been longer than I care to admit since I’ve been in the studio and REALLY danced. Fear and, well, life have kept me away, and I’ve convinced myself that I’ve moved on. But I haven’t. I miss it every day. I miss training for hours a day, pushing my body, getting lost in the music. Dance is my therapy, my joy, it’s a piece of me. So for you, Andre, I will dance…even if it’s in my living room with my toddler. I may be out of shape, too old, and very very pregnant…but I’m going to jump back in…belly first!
It isn’t about whether we have things we regret in our lives. It’s going to happen. You are going to have regret. Accept it. It’s what you do once you realize it that makes a difference. Do you let it fester and eat away at you? Do you ignore it and explain it away? Or do you make a change, allow it to inform the rest of your life, inspire your decisions?
I’m choosing the latter. I can’t go back in time and change my actions (or inaction). But I can choose to be present moving forward. To not wait. To take the opportunity, any opportunity, even if I don’t feel up to it, or ready for it. It’s so easy for regret to slip into our lives. Whether it’s regretting time not spent with a loved one before it’s too late, or saying ‘just a minute’ for the 100th time to your toddler when they ask you to play trains and you are too busy folding laundry or washing dishes or cleaning up to stop and play, regret happens. And the only thing you can do about it is learn from it, know it exists and live life so that you have less of it. Because the harsh reality is, we never know when our last chance to dance will be.