Take today, for instance.
Stepping out my door this morning revealed a lovely, bright, crisp November day awaiting my pleasure so, woolly-hatted and leather gloved in the crisp cold air, I begin my walk, falling easily into a speed and rythym ingrained into my muscle memory over countless similar journeys. My mind, easily bored with nothing to distract it, jumped at the chance to wander...
...onto the topic of regret. More accurately, a specific regret.
I'm quite an analytical person, with a good memory, so I'm quite used to little mental sojourns through my past. I tend to be quite critical, too: once this served as a tool for self-improvement, now more often than not it's a purely theoretical exercise that provides fodder for future decision making.
Today we were considering a particular time in my past when I upset someone, leading to the loss of a few people I considered friends. Painful still, but less so each time I revisit it, especially since I've gained a few very helpful insights from it in the years since: this , I believe, is called Learning.
This occupied the whole 45 minutes of my walk as I thought in and around the topic, considering, extrapolating and, yes, even revising - for what would a reminiscence be without at least imagining how the mistake could have been avoided. As soon as I reached my destination, however, my mind very quickly reverted to planning the day ahead of me...though the experience has left an imprint on me, touching on my emotions as it did.
Regrets are funny things, aren't they? Without making mistakes we don't seem to learn as easily (or at all, in my case ). But without our mistakes, we would be different people. I think I would be a different person (possibly colder, more arrogant, less empathetic...), yet I've learned to love and accept who I am, the person my experiences have helped me become. So shouldn't we really be celebrating them? Those concentrated flashpoints in our lives when we erred, emotions ran high and relations with others changed accordingly? Odd, then, that I should have any regrets at all.
I regret upsetting the person alluded to above. Deeply enough to carry the pain of it for the rest of my life, I fear. But there are other regrets, too, of different kinds. I regret not being bolder when challenges faced me, such as my cringeworthy response to the bullying I suffered througout my school life, or in my early romantic encounters when I responded awkwardly to certain approaches. I regret certain decisions that time proved to be the wrong ones. I regret, I feel bad for those times I failed myself and others...but for me this seems healthy and proper to do so and I can't seem to work out if this contradiction is a good thing or not.
I know the common wisdom is to have No Regrets by the time you reach your death-bed, hell it's practically a mantra these days, but my thought for today is that consdering how important getting things wrong is, what kind of life would it be, what kind of person would you be, if you had no regrets to speak of during your last moments of life?