“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…” Can’t you just hear old Blue Eyes crooning that hit song so many years ago. Even now, the words of that song touch my tender spots. Then you hear: ”I did it my way”, then you wonder. Do any of us live our lives solo? I mean, do any of us live our lives strictly Your Way or My Way?
Doesn’t it give you pause to think back over your life, and if the regrets seem to pop up with greater frequency, then maybe you need to take a closer look. Maybe you’re concentrating on the big ugly things, and obscuring in those little precious moments the truly make up the quality of your life.
I rather like this toast: “Here’s to the few things we missed and, oh, so many we didn’t”. I like that because as I consider the things that we didn’t miss, I end up with a hat full of blessings.
Dwelling on regrets is like sticking your head in the sand and ignoring life as it passes you by. There are times when I’ve had my head in the sand, following bad experiences or the loss of a loved one. Looking back, I think I played the “poor me” game too much, too long, often while letting some of the important things in my life go right by unnoticed and now unremembered. That is a sad testimony.
Not that very long ago my niece, a trained grief coach, asked me, ”Uncle Stan, when are you going to stop running?” She made this comment following a lengthy conversation in which I told her that solo driving was a form of grief therapy for me. Over a span of six months after my wife died, I managed to put 16,000 miles on my car in the interest of “grief therapy”. Her comment was made lovingly, even though, in my mind, it had sharp corners. It did open my eyes and I began to look more closely at the fact that my “driving therapy” was actually a form of escape. It occurred to me that in all those miles, I never left my grief behind, it was always there, right with me, in the car.
I enjoy writing. I concentrate on essays of various points of interest that come my way. Some are faith-based, some are observations on the human condition. Some are just plain ridiculous, offered in humor. Some are simply glimpses, or remembrances of my growing up years. I don’t know if writing is my therapy, but I do know that I get lost in my subject, and often, I find myself, talking to the one who is there only in spirit.
Four or five months after my wife died, I was trying to formulate an idea for an essay. I got to thinking about the rich and full life we had together. In the midst of that walk down memory lane, a little voice of “regret” stuck its ugly head in and seemed to say “all that’s great, but, what did you miss?” I refused to take that turn toward the negative and, as they say I “accentuated the positive”, and sat down and began to write an essay that now carries the title “Taking Inventory.”
That essay begins with, ”I never got around to making a bucket list. I guess I was too busy living to take the time. What I do have are those people, events, accomplishments, and large quantities of time with loved ones.”
I think we could all say, that if we look with honesty and clear eyes at the path of our life, we may not have a bucket list but I would wager what you end up with is a blessings list. Events, special happenings that produced fond memories not to mention all the characters that filled up your life, each day, close and from a distance.
So, I went on to make my blessings list. In my essay, I list only 14 items, not in any order of importance or meaningfulness just snippets of my life that came to mind at the time. Family gatherings, travel with friends, holding a newborn grandkid and then six more, and watching them grow up and become successful in their lives. I was privileged to hold three newborn great grandkids and I hope to watch them grow There were adventures to England and Italy, Canada and the Caribbean cruise we enjoyed. Oh, there’s a lot there on that blessings list, of mine. And, no, I cannot find room for regrets.
So, how about you? On the scale of your life, what is the balance between blessings and regrets. Take a look at the path your life has taken, look back and what draws your attention? Things you did, the people you love, the places you’ve gone, the graduations and weddings, the birth of kids and grandkids, Disney world in the rain, service to your country, and all those other celebrations. Or, is your vision so clouded by imagined regrets, that you miss the best?
In that other essay I wrote this: “Blessings in all shapes and sizes, vivid colors of life, made all the more precious by how they were all shared with those we love. Gifts from God, that too often we tuck away in the back of our minds, in the attic, in the album, those old tapes or memory sticks, rarely to be reviewed. But, you know what? Each is worth the review and a revisit because each represents an essential part of a complete mosaic about just how good life really is.
So, my friends, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
For what it’s worth.