Things We See Clear In Retrospect

A few months ago, I wrote about a great line from Stephen King’s book 11/22/63.

In addition to that line, I also jotted down another thought that stuck with me.

Stupidity is one of two things we see most clearly in retrospect. The other is missed chances.”

In the story, King is writing about a sports bet that the main character shouldn’t have made. This bet makes him money, but it alerts the mob that he is back in town, which puts him in danger.

So in this case, the thing the character sees clearly is his stupid decision to make the bet. Only he doesn’t entirely realized it until it is too late. Thanks a lot hindsight.

I like this line especially based on my post from yesterday about the things we most regret in life. As King says, and Bronnie Ware’s experience with terminal patients has confirmed, missed chances stick with us. And they become more powerful as time goes on.

We see them clearly in retrospect and then we have a hard time getting over them. Even in our final days.

They say “hindsight is 20/20” as in perfect vision. But pre-hindsight (a term I think I just made up), aka the present, often feels like “50/50” as in the flip of a coin. In the moment taking a chance could lead to us looking stupid. There is no guarantee it will work out. But if we don’t try we could end with a missed chance.

Both will only become clear in hindsight. But as we read yesterday, only one do we think about on our deathbed.

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