“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” − Sydney J. Harris
I have regrets. There are things I’ve said and done that I can’t undo. I can say with certainty, however, that they were never words or actions made with mal-intent. More often than not, they were a result of hasty actions and unsound judgement.
I can’t change the past, but I have learned some very hard lessons. And although I cannot re-write history, I sure as hell won’t repeat history.
I believe that – at the end of each day – we should be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and look into our own eyes, unflinchingly. That should be the goal of every man and woman. If you can look deep into your own eyes, without wincing, then you’ve lived through a day with complete authenticity – with no regrets.
I also believe that when we err (we are human and therefore subject to flaws, after all), we must learn from our mistakes and move on. Just as we should strive to forgive others, so should we try to forgive ourselves.
Ha! Forgiveness. Why is it always easier to forgive others, but not ourselves? Do we hold ourselves to a higher standard than others? Are we too arrogant? Masochistic? Too bull-headed? Perhaps all of the above. But, forgive ourselves…we must. Time will take care of the rest.
As for myself, I will forgive … but I will never forget.
And then there’s that other type of Regret, equally torturous to the soul – but for a completely different reason. The regret of “what might have been.” This type of regret usually kicks us in the gut somewhere in the mid-forties and onwards (typically on milestone birthdays).
“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” − Mercedes Lackey
I have very little patience for the “woe is me” syndrome or people who use “bad luck” or “circumstances” as an excuse for not following their bliss. Granted, sometimes life throws us some hard knocks. But, it’s how we choose to deal with these obstacles that will either steer us towards or away from our path – whatever that may be.
Choices. They make us or break us. Some are reversible, others are not. And, sometimes we have to do some serious damage control (the fancy term for this is “crisis management”).
But, we all must remind ourselves this: we (each of us) own our own lives. Choose each path thoughtfully. That way, you minimize the possibility of future regrets. Let me tell you a little story:
When I was young, I loved ballet, opera, theatre, music, and books. Always books. Many (many) decades later, I still love ballet, opera, theatre, music, and books. Books are the things (inanimate) that I hold most dear.
However, I never became a prima ballerina (although with my hips, I would have made a great belly dancer!). My deepest fantasy has always been to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov and, alas, it is also my deepest regret that I never shall ….
I never became another Maria Callas (although, I do irritate the hell out of my husband when I attempt to sing “Nessun Dorma” – full throttle).
I am no Meryl Streep (most definitely, no Angelina Jolie!).
I will never play the piano like Montréal jazz pianist Jamie Gelfand (he’s another brilliant talent who, like Lorena Gale, attended Marianopolis College at the same time as myself).
Now, here’s where it gets interesting (at least for me…. you, on the other hand, may possibly be snoozing at this point…hope not!). My old faithful friends — my books — have provided me with the inspiration, motivation, and deepest passion …. to write.
And so, I am a Writer. This is my bliss. Non, je ne regrette rien. (No, I regret nothing). I have become who I was meant to be and I love it all —the sleepless nights, the swollen feet (lack of circulation from sitting at the computer for ten hours straight), the angst, the critiques, the sheer joy of creating characters and scenarios and on and on… .
So, please say goodbye to regrets. Follow your bliss. Don’t create imaginary roadblocks for yourself. Just do it. And love every minute of it.
Image by/via Cyrus Mafi.