I was in college. It was my Freshman year, my first finals week. A beautiful day. And I was just walking across campus. I noticed a girl, another student, sitting on bench, hunched over. I could only see the sides of her face. Her eyes, nose, mouth were covered by her hands. Her elbows were on her knees. Her shoulders were shaking. These huge sobs were emanating from her body. She was obviously beyond upset about something.
I watched her as a walked closer, debating what to do. Should I leave her alone? Should I stop and offer help? Should I kneel in front of her? Should I sit next to her? Should I leave her alone? Does she want to be be invisible? Is she asking for help by being in such a public place? What should I do?
In the end, as I approached her, I just kept walking. Something stopped me from offering her a simple kindness. Something stopped me from doing anything but walk. My indecision regarding what to do, decided for me that I would do nothing.
To this day I think about that girl. What had happened to leave her so distressed - and in such a public place? Had she failed a final? Did a boyfriend break up with her? Had someone passed away? Was there some kind of family issue? Why was she alone? Where were her friends? How long did she sit there? Did anyone else offer her comfort?
I feel sad that I didn't let her know I saw her at least, that she wasn't invisible. I think I feared she would rebuff me in some way, so I left her alone. Or that perhaps she wanted to be left alone. But the thing is I'll never really know.
But here is what I suspect, even if she had rebuffed me, I don't think I would still be thinking about it, would still be regretting the (non) incident. I'd probably have shrugged it off and it'd be long forgotten. Maybe she would have told me to leave her the eff alone. But at least I'd know. At least I wouldn't regret.
Today's Lesson: Often in life, the things we most often regret are the things we don't do.