I think one of the saddest things which I have witnessed more recently, is people nearing the end of their lives full of regret; for paths not taken, potential not expressed, dreams crumbled, and feeling not loved enough. I grant you that life has an annoying way of not giving us all that we want, but to end life full of regrets is far from being at peace. For it is a peaceful end that we strive, given some choice in the matter. The strange thing is that we do have choice; far more than we think.
When I gave my husband’s eulogy in 2011, I remember thinking that this needed to be the best speech I had ever made in my life. I took a deep breath and let my voice ring out. I ended by asking people for congratulations and not condolences. I felt that people should congratulate me because the love that my husband and I had for each other burned brightly, and we had no regrets about the way we had conducted our marriage. We both thought that they had been the best days of our lives. And to be able to say that, is to feel blessed and full of gratitude.
Making Mistakes And Looking Backwards
We all make mistakes. I know I have certainly made my share. Some of them small mistakes like unintentionally hurting someone else’s feelings, or letting my own feelings in darker times fuel weight gain.
It doesn’t take too much rummaging in one’s mind to come up with a long laundry list of ” mistakes”.
I do believe that we are responsible for the choices that we make in life, yet we seem to have stumbled unconsciously into a number of these mistakes. I think at the time, most of us are trying our level bests, even though the outcome may not be praiseworthy. But the outcome is human, flawed, and now becomes the question of what we do with it? Do we beat ourselves up and berate ourselves? Do we ride roughshod over our mistakes? Or do we learn from them in some way and move forward?
I think it takes a great deal of courage to examine our mistakes and learn from them. No one really likes looking at themselves and their flaws under a microscope. But if you accept responsibility for your mistakes instead of tossing them aside casually into the trash can, there is often much to be learned. Indeed you can even say to oneself ” Well, whatever I do in the future, I won’t do that one again!” Even more useful, is to ask oneself what you learned, and it is in that openness to learn from one’s mistakes, that puts us on the path to future growth.
However, somewhere in the process, it is important to forgive oneself. Often we are harder on ourselves than we are on other people, and it becomes all too easy to label oneself as someone who always screws up. And once we label ourselves this way, we are lost forever, and are on a fast track to having a life that ends being overshadowed with regrets.
It Is Never Over Until You Say So
When you reach a certain age, it becomes all too easy to shrug ones shoulders and say ” I am the way I am, for better or worse”. What we are trying to convey, is that we are resigned to stop growing as a person. I think the secret to success in life is to be at peace with the present, but always strive for a better future. It is not over until you say so. And this is the secret to living without regret. Living full out in whatever form that self expression takes; not apologizing for the frailties of being human; and becoming a wiser person in the process.