But Then Again, Why Mention?
We all have regrets, that’s for sure. You can not lead a life without them. You may regret that first stumble and fall, if you remember it at all. You may regret dropping that toy. You may regret letting go of that balloon. You may regret throwing food on the floor. You may also regret spilling the milk, but why cry over that?
As you grow, I guess there are plenty of things to regret. How about the day you did not do your homework? How about the time you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar, literally or figuratively? How about the time you were grounded for not doing _________ (fill in the blank).
School years can be filled with regrets. Many of them will actually have to do with getting caught, rather than what you did. Of course, if you fell off old man Jones’ garage and broke your arm, you will probably regret that. If you picked on someone smaller and got your butt kicked, you probably regret that too.
When you could not work up the nerve to ask Sally or Janie or Billy to the prom, you may regret it years later. This especially stings if you find out the person you wished to ask, liked you too and was hoping you would ask him or her out. There are a lot of friendships, especially at the high school level, that may have developed into something, if only you had the courage to move forward.
This is especially tough for gay boys and girls who feel they may be the only gay ones in their class and are afraid to approach anyone on this topic. Recently, I learned a high school classmate was gay so I went back to look at his yearbook picture. I wanted to see if he was the person I remembered. He was smart and handsome and someone I would not have thought I could approach.
Adult life may be filled with a series of sorrows over decisions made. Should you have gone to college? If you went, did you pick the right school? The right major? It is easy to spend time at the fraternity parties and local bars. Will you later wonder if studying harder would have made a difference in later life?
There was a good friend of mine through elementary and high school who also went on to the same University with me. We took many of the same classes, not all. We frequently studied together. Sometimes, OK many times, our studies started with a trip to a deep dish pizza place where we would order pizza and pitchers of beer. Since deep dish pizza took a long time to make, we might get 30 to 40 minutes of studying in before the pizza arrived. After that, it was just pizza and beer. I guess I do not regret this one too much.
After college I cultivated many groups of friends. A lot of these friendships revolved around local bars to watch sports and drink beer. In later years it might involve karaoke too. We loved our nights out, at least we thought we did. As I look back on those years, I am not sure I remember who came along or what occasions we enjoyed most. They were just nights out, killing time.
Then, of course, it would be easy to regret all the money we spent at these various places. Some nights, we poured money over the bar just as fast as they poured drinks into our glasses. Buying drinks for others, especially if they did not have a lot of cash, seemed like a great idea. They probably do not remember me, just as much as I do not remember them.
My mother spent a lot of time in the local lounges, one in particular in my lifetime. The time spent took up more than 50 years of her life and all of her spare money. At these places, I am convinced she felt she made a number of deep friendships. It was important to get to these places on Friday or Saturday night to see her “friends.” When she had a stroke at 73, a couple came to see her once or sent a card. After the first few weeks, we never saw any of these people again over the next 16 years. I did wonder if she regretted any of the time spent at the Lounge. In her case, I just don’t know.
If you married the wrong person, you may have deep regrets. If you married several wrong people, I guess it could be a lot of regrets. Friendships and marriages are sometimes chosen in haste. They need to be corrected rather than regretted.
The thing about regrets? There’s nothing to be gained from them. You should learn from mistakes, but regrets aren’t worth anything. You can’t get back time lost. You can’t get back money spent. You can’t undo painful history. There’s nothing to be gained from dwelling on mistakes. Take the lesson. Move forward. Skip the regrets.
Don’t look at yesterday when today offers you the opportunity to look forward. You can’t change what happened. Maybe you don’t really want to. Everything you’ve done — good and bad — is part of you.
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.