Many, many years ago I made a decision that impacted my life in ways that I am only now able to fully see. At that time I chose to do nothing, to say nothing and to not stand up for what I wanted. While I have come to terms with those choices, it will be always remain a moment in my life that I will look back on with a sense of regret.
The upside of regret…yes, I believe there is an upside…and it is the opportunity to own up to those choices and to acknowledge the ways in which they have affected my life and what I can learn from it and how I can use that to improve the world around me. Like most parents, it is my sincere wish that my children are able to grow up, live happy and healthy, productive lives and yes, hope they can look back without regret. Yet, as I say that I wonder, is that a realistic desire? How many people manage to go through life with no regrets? And if they do, what kind of life is that? A life devoid of mistakes or failures? Let’s face it, with the exception of the One perfect person who walked this planet, even the best people make mistakes or take a wrong turn.
I recently heard it said that we make the best decision at the time we made it, with the information we had available to us. We are not perfect people, we cannot always know the right answer and to say that we never look back at some of those moments without even the slightest bit of regret is, to me, denying ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn. It’s the regret that drives me to want better, to improve and to avoid repeating my past. It has been a valuable parenting tool that reminds me to be humble and compassionate and to try and not judge the mistakes of others.
It is that same regret that reminds me each day to appreciate every moment, to not take anything for granted and to hold tight to what I hold dear. Much like photography, that perfect light will pass and that moment will be gone. You can hope it will be there again tomorrow but there are never any guarantees.