Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Live Without Regrets

I’ve pretty much lived my life, for the past forty years at least, with the belief that the past is over and done with and you can’t bring it back. Generally speaking I wouldn’t want to anyway. By the same token, tomorrow may never come and that means the only time we have for certain is now, today, this hour, this minute. To live in the moment means, for one thing, letting go of regrets and bad memories. It also means not putting off until tomorrow what you can do today – all kinds of things like getting in touch with old friends, finding the book you’ve been hearing about or wanting to read, glorying in a sunrise or sunset, a day at the beach, a beautiful day regardless of the season. Appreciating good friends and letting them know you care – now, not later. Forgiving everyone and everything that has hurt you in the past. Actually, I feel that forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and it doesn’t matter if that means forgiving yourself or someone else. The real reward is a sense of peace and it’s yours forever. Hugging your children every chance you get and that goes for that favorite pet as well. Lingering over a meal long enough to really the savor the taste of a good piece of fruit, a veggie, whatever. And laughter, look for and find lots and lots of reasons to laugh. Do your best to get rid of the feelings of anger and frustration because they destroy the beauty of any moment.

Now that I’ve praised this idealistic state of being, do I succeed at doing this for myself all the time? You can bet I don’t – not all the time. I find when I’m not paying attention I can easily let myself remember what it was like to be hurt, disappointed in things, other people, and most of all myself. And for the times when I said or did something that hurt another person. I can still waste precious moments being angry and frustrated and downright self-pitying. I can still waste those same precious moments regretting things from the past, opportunities missed or simply not taken advantage of, and those special hurts that you tend to keep in that quickly accessed place that makes it easy to keep bringing them into your consciousness so you can relive them, renew them and keep them alive. And because you keep them alive by bringing them out every so often they can remain as fresh and as painful as they were years and years ago and to what purpose? Can you change them? No. Can you eliminate them? Not unless you’re truly willing to let them go, forgive whoever was involved and get on with your life here and now and in the present. Too idealistic? Perhaps, but that’s my goal at least.

When I first sat down to write this piece, I started trying to make a list of things in my life that I regretted. It didn’t take long to start feeling sad, angry and frustrated. So I tore up the list, walked away from my desk and didn’t even think about the project for the next several days. When I returned to the task I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to write about, but it wasn’t going to be regrets in the usual sense of the word. Instead, I started trying to focus on all the wonderful things in my life right now, this moment. It didn’t take long for that list to far exceed the list of regrets I had started earlier.

I have been so gloriously blessed in so very many ways and it doesn’t take hours of focusing on all those good things to make me realize that the good and wonderful things in my life far exceed the bad – at least in my mind. I have four incredible, healthy, bright and beautiful children. I have my wonderful dog, Sam, a Miniature Schnauzer. And then last year my youngest son, Adam, who is single and travels a lot with his job, built me a lovely space at his house. I had never, ever even considered living with any of my children, not because I don't love them, but because I do. I had always encouraged them to be independent, pursue their own dreams, wherever that led them, to create the life that they wanted. Consequently, he didn’t have an easy sell. But after a year and a half he finally convinced me that it was what he wanted to do, that I would be an asset because I would be there to be a “mother” to his dog, Mojo and he wouldn’t have to worry about the house during his long trips. So, I moved to Seattle and it has worked out well. There have been adjustments for both of us, but we’ve made them. We both have lives of our own, but we still do things together and it’s lots of fun. I have my health – physically and mentally – well, there may be some that would question that, but at least as far as I’m concerned. I’m involved with Tai Chi classes, swimming, and volunteering in a Jump Start program for pre-school children and that’s great fun. I take trips sponsored by one of the senior centers near our house.

So, I don’t have a lot of regrets or at least ones that I’m willing to focus on to the detriment of my peace of mind, happiness and ability to enjoy and live in the moment. Are there things I wish I had done or done differently? Of course, there are, but since it isn’t possible to go back and change those things, they’re not enough to make me waste the “now”, which is all I have, all any of us have. So grin, giggle, laugh and shove the past inside a great big old trunk and toss it over the side of your own personal life boat now and live!

1 comment:

Chancy said...

Hi Sylvia
Interesting post. I am glad living with your son is working out. How great of him to build you a living space in his home.
He must be a fine young man.