Iíve always been more than a little confused by people who adamantly refuse to admit regret. Iím sure everyone has heard something to this effect at least once or twice before, I know I have. In fact, a close friend of mine, visiting from California, remains convinced (following a lengthy discussion) that living such a life, without regret, is not only possible but exactly how he lives from day to day. Then again, as a cancer survivor, maybe heís right. For me, however, letís just say Iíve just never been able to do so.
No, Iíll be the first to admit that I do have my regrets, gathered over a lifetime of mistakes and due, at times, to circumstances beyond my control. These regrets vary widely in scope, from the smallest imaginable all the way up to those life-changing decisions which crop up from time to time. Sometimes itís something as small as wishing Iíd never sold that guitar, or never told that little white lie, which never truly hurt anyone but still rankles when recalled. Other times, well, Iím not going to go into details, but Iíll be the first to admit that Iíve, sadly, said and done things I wish I could take back in hindsight. I suppose Iíve always felt that life just naturally works that way.
The problem with old regrets, if you let them consume you, is that they really canít be fixed. As weíve yet to invent time travel, thereís simply no way to magically go back and repair the damage our mistakes, big or small, inevitably cause. And in all honesty, I donít think Iíd want to. Every single decision Iíve made in the past, from the most mundane to the most personally earth-shattering, has led me to where I am, who I am. Iíd like to believe there is a balance there, and a lesson. Better to avoid letting your regrets rule oneself (that path leads to fear, anger and depression, which ultimately leads to the Dark Side as we all know) and instead try to learn from my past mistakes.
What I found truly inspiring during my discussion with my friend Ė the fact that we can avoid future regrets by examining ourselves, our personal situations and living accordingly. For example, a person who knowingly indulges in an unhealthy lifestyle is, in most cases I would think, going to regret it down the road. Changing such a lifestyle may be difficult in the long run, but deep down I think everyone understands the consequences if the decision to make such a change is ignored. Obviously Iím not one to talk here, as I have my own personal share of bad habits, but itís something to think on.
Over the years, Iíve learned that wisdom can be found in the strangest of places. In the 2009 motion picture ďFanboysĒ (a comedy and tribute to all things Star Wars), Dan Fogler, as Harold ďHutchĒ Hutchinson, compares his friend Ericís personal troubles to Luke Skywalkerís destruction of the Death Star, which he considers the young Jedi Knightís greatest achievement.
According to Hutch, everyone, at some point in their life, must overcome their own personal ďDeath Star,Ē and I couldnít agree more. Living with, and accepting, my own regrets has been an epic battle for me at times. Iíve come to accept the fact that my past is simply that, my past. I canít change it, so why try. Instead, I think Iíd rather concentrate on my future, on what tomorrow may bring.
So while I donít think itís in me to live a life with no regrets, I do think itís in my best interests, in all our best interests really, to try and accept them. Itís important to realize, even though itís been said a thousand times, that nobodyís perfect. With Thanksgiving and the holidays upon us, such a lesson is invaluable. If we can learn to forgive ourselves, and each other, I think weíll find the world to be a much better place. For an opportunity such as that, Iím thankful.
Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.