Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure

Context: The informant is my uncle and he is identified as J.I. He was raised in the Bay Area by my grandparents alongside my mother. In the following quote gathered from a phone call I had with him, J.I reflects on the aphorism, ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’; one that his father would often tell him in his adolescent years.

Main Text: “My dad had so many great expressions. I was always kind of impulsive, and I still am in some ways, but he always used to tell me ‘Act In Haste, Repent at Leisure’. It was his way of teaching me a lesson and warning me that making impulsive decisions could leave me with an unwanted result. Many times after making a rash decision I was like why did I do that, or why did I act so quick, because I’m stuck with it now, you know? And I think that this quote is really great when you look at life. You can always pull the trigger on something, but it’s usually best to marinate on an idea or big purchase so you don’t feel stuck with something later.”

Analysis: This saying passed down to my uncle from my grandfather is one that reteaches a common lesson: that if you act fast and don’t like the end result, you’ll have plenty of time to regret it later. I think this piece of folklore is relevant to many adolescent boys and even grown men because it is often tempting to make what seems like a fun, short-term decision without considering all of the long-term ramifications. After researching, it seems that this saying is derived from the 17th century saying “marry in haste, repent at leisure”, which originated from the 1693 novel “The Old Batchelour” by William Congreve.