Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Regrets....I've had a few....

I watched the movie, "The Bucket List" last night. I thought it was pretty good, silly in parts and poignant in others. Of course, me being the way I am, it also got me thinking about alot of things.

I think the idea of a "Bucket List" is something we've all got stored somewhere in our heads, even if we don't have it written on paper. And maybe we call it something else; a "To Do" list, or "Things To Do Before I Die" or even a "Life List." I know at one point on the Ellen Degeneres show, she was sharing her life list and checking things off as she went. I have one, you have one I'm sure.

The point though is this. As the end draws near, I don't think I'll necessarily regret that I didn't get to tick off "take up a martial art" or "learn to wolf whistle." (although I DO plan on checking those things off!) I think it might be disappointing to not be able to have done all the things I wished to have learned, to see, to do. As Lucille Ball has been quoted as saying, "I'd rather regret the things I have done, then the things I didn't do." I believe that was tongue in cheek, but still, the regrets we feel are often more about the personal relationships in our lives. We regret the things we said, or didn't say. We regret letting a relationship drop. We regret hurting someone. We regret making mistakes.

When I look back on my life, I won't regret eating or drinking too much. I won't regret that I didn't work out more consistently. I certainly won't regret that my house was not more clean. Already, the circumstances that bring regrets are the ones where I made decisions that hurt others, or even hurt myself.

And yet, with regret, comes growth. If you look at a challenging situation where you maybe took a turn you wish you hadn't, you can see it as an opportunity. Maybe that's called optimism? Every chance I have, I look for the lesson I'm supposed to learn. And the path forward from that lesson. Maybe I screwed up. Badly. And maybe I regret the pain or anguish I had to live through to get to the other side. But can I regret the lesson imparted from the mistake? I think that is the best way we learn. By making mistakes, and then by owning them.

The movie took the men to various fun and exciting locals and experiences. But in the end, the important task to them was mending the interpersonal relationships in their lives. Can we die with "no regrets?" I don't think it's possible. For "to regret deeply is to live afresh." (Thoreau)
The key is to regret, but repair. Regret the things said or left undone, but then make the effort to permit yourself to concede the lesson learned. A life lived with regrets and no effort to grow from them, is a life wasted. A life with regrets but soaked with the knowledge imparted from them, is a life celebrated.

Celebrate. Live. Regret. Learn.

And check off "Wolf Whistle."

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