What was the first thing that came to mind when you read the title of this blog? Did it give you pause? Perhaps you thought "I don't have regrets," and scrolled off in search of a lighter topic in the blogosphere. Perhaps before you left, a small seed of doubt was planted. I'm not sure that's a bad thing though because it means you're actively reflecting...reviewing and weighing the outcome of past choices.
Some choices are non-consequential, meaning that they have a relatively small impact on us as individuals, and none on anyone else. For example: my daughter made buckeyes as part of our holiday bake-a-thon and rather than taking the leftovers with her and her family, she left a tin in the refrigerator full of the evil chocolate and peanut butter delights. We did our best to ignore them for about a week, then caved until only two were left so I, taking one for the team, made myself a cup of coffee and polished them off. Should I have eaten the last two buckeyes from the Christmas tin? Probably not, but they sure were good...and now that they're no longer a temptation, I can merely reset the start date for this year's resolution to cut sugar and move on. But do I regret eating the buckeyes?
I wrote a blog article several years ago about new year's resolutions, and rather than rehash the topic (you can read the article here, by the way), it seemed to me that resolutions stem from self-reflection; a continuous improvement process geared at producing a better me. Should I have single-handedly eaten the entire tin of buckeyes? Well...no. My husband likes sweets and it would have been selfish of me to hoard the entire tin not to mention the fact that at 70, my face still breaks out when I eat chocolate. I'm sure I would have had regrets. But this blog article isn't really about buckeyes.
I do have regrets.
I regret being judgmental...a rather ugly attribute and surprisingly sly as it's shielded in the notion that I know something that the target of my judgement doesn't. And worse yet, that I have a solution that will fix everything. I'm not sure where being judgmental originated...maybe it was born with my first child out of responsibility; maybe I've always had an opinion about how things should work. Regardless, it's a tired old mantle worn for too long. Time to put it down and strive to just let things be.
I regret some of the choices I made in my career and personal relationships based on fear. I rehash these tired old stories late at night often wishing for a magical do-over. The catch is, as we know from every Marvel movie made in the last ten years, that a change to any choice made in the past, has ripples which, though they may resolve the initial subject of the do-over, won't resolve the lesson I needed to learn. It's much harder to look at that thing I regret in the eye, and learn from it.
I regret not asking my parents and grandparents more questions. One of my grandfathers fought in WW1 and I doubt that any of his grandchildren ever asked about his life before the war, or after. As a grandparent now, I want to share my life's stories with my grandchildren. The problem is that randomly shared stories don't carry the same weight as those requested, and oftentimes I feel my words failing to compete with whatever is on the television or their mobile devices. And I feel invisible. I wonder if my parents and grandparents held their stories back thinking they didn't really have an audience...and so their stories remained silent. I wonder if they felt invisible.
There should be another confession just to make things tidy, but honestly, those three are plenty enough to forgive for now. Forgive? Well, yes. There is no magical do-over. I can apologize to whomever I've hurt...including myself...but it changes nothing. That's what makes a regret so heavy...it's a consequence carried from inception until death with little to do but learn, try to do better, and forgive.